ASHES TO ASHES

By Lisa Huddleston

Where have all the fall flowers gone,

Where are the mounds of oranges and reds,

The musty wet piles that covered our heads,

From which we erupted then remade our beds,

Where are the colors today?

 

I used to say that fall showed us how beautiful dying could be,

But now I fear I’m wrong.

This year the leaves drop without color,

Ashy gray skirts lie around empty trunks,

No beauty to the dying,

Just ashes to ashes and dust to dust.

Where have all the flowers gone?

MEMORIES AS CLEAR AS A BELL

Young girl playing TrumpetBy Lisa Huddleston

An odd, old memory just jogged through my mind. I was sitting here on the couch wasting time and watching TV when a commercial showed a grade-school girl opening an instrument case to reveal a brand new clarinet.

Instantly I felt my 5th-grade excitement at getting my brand new, shiny brass cornet. I was thrilled and couldn’t wait to learn to play it. However, in my ignorance and enthusiasm, I picked it up by the mouthpiece, and the horn detached falling bell down on to the floor. I had only had it for a few days, but for the rest of my school career in band, there were crinkly dents circling the neck of that bell, and I was sad and a little ashamed every time I lifted it out of its metallic smelling case.

Many years later, I had the opportunity to play in a church orchestra, and my sweet husband surprised me with a new, unblemished silver trumpet. It was beautiful, and I was proud to hold its shiny smooth bell before me. No scars showing. No shame over my earlier mistakes. A clean slate.

Hmmm … truths to ponder. Mistakes are sometimes the results of our ignorance. I didn’t realize that I couldn’t hold that new cornet by the mouthpiece when I first received it. It took an accident to teach me a hard lesson–and I never lifted it up that way again. But by then the damage was done, and I had to live with the scars my mistake left behind.

Happily, another truth is also contained in this story. Second chances teach us grace. I felt very undeserving of that shiny silver trumpet. I hadn’t played in years. I wasn’t any good. I had dented my first instrument–I’d probably do it again. But no. I played that horn with joy, and it restored my love for the experience of making music. Grace. Second chances. And joy.

I could have rejected the chance. I could have told Chuck to return that trumpet, or I could have told the director I wasn’t good enough to play. After all, that’s exactly how I felt. But for some reason, I took the risk. I accepted Chuck’s generous gift, I joined the band, and I did okay. And it turned out to be a lot of fun!

Funny how that commercial brought those memories rushing back. Not only have I kept that old cornet. It is proudly displayed in our music room–dents and all–as a reminder of the provision of my parents, my husband, and the graciousness of God himself.

And my joy of music rather than my shame has been handed down to my three children who play piano, mandolin, guitar, bass, banjo, cello, violin, and whatever else they choose to play. Praise God for second chances–and even (who can believe it) for commercials?!