Going Through the Motions

Posted: July 7, 2015 in Uncategorized

Last night I joined two hundred of my best friends at a chamber music concert hosted by our congregation. The crowd trended rather strongly to older; they have the classic interest, time and discretionary money to attend. It was a varied program that included Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Bartok and more. The musicians were highly skilled, playing well with one another and clearly enjoying their craft.

Of course, following each piece we dutifully, sometimes enthusiastically clapped. Applause is one way our culture expresses appreciation and happiness with what has been offered. The most obvious result of clapping is the collective sound it generates, a kind of rainstorm of sound. But that is not always true; if you attend a meeting of the hearing impaired and it comes time to show appreciation, they raise their hands and wiggle their fingers in a silent visual demonstration.

Following one of the best performances of the evening the crowd clapped raucously as an expression of its delight. Out of the corner of my peripheral vision I noticed a man in a wheel chair. His hands were held high above his head, moving them just as quickly and forcefully as those around him. But they were not ordinary hands that were moving in rhythm. No, these hands were twisted and atrophied with palsy. In fact, his hands were so disabled that they could not possibly clap in any ordinary sense of the word; surface could not slap against surface. Rather, one fist of clay could only move in the direction of the other fist of clay.

None of that disability detracted from his sense of rapture and his need to join with his tribe in thanking the composer, the musicians, yes even God for this moment of supreme beauty. He could not make the sound or the same kind of contact that others did but he clapped none the less. His applause of the heart rose up above his head, fanned by what instruments he had to do the fanning. His smile beamed out from behind the his motions and the motions of every other person in a kind of wordless peon of praise. And when he did and when I beheld him my own hands began to clap more than they had been and slowly, surely the smile that was waiting to happen crept to my face until it lit me up almost as much as he had.

  1. Jane says:

    Beautiful. Wish I had been there. Can picture this. 🙂

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