Friday, April 4, 2014

Sober Friday: What are we doing here?

Don Gilbert, timpanist
At last night's symphony practice I learned that our exemplary timpanist, Mr. Don Gilbert, had passed away in his sleep the night before. He had not been well for the last year (his heart) but it still made me sad that I'll never hear him play again. Until this season I sat beside him (new risers required a rearrangement of the percussion section, and Don and his timpanis moved to the other side of the stage). We used to joke between songs and help one another keep our places during long rests. But more than that, Don was a true professional, always 100% prepared, and a perfectionist with even the most simple notes. He was also humble about his accomplishments. He'd graduated from Eastman School of Music, earned a Master's from Michigan State, and performed at Carnegie Hall. Our symphony was so blessed to have him play with us the last several years, and I don't want him to ever be forgotten.
Don in action and me the flutist closest to him
Between Don's death and my writer friend Jan, it's made me think about how life really does go on. Even when people we know and love and admire die, and their passing leaves a great emptiness, life has to go on. It has to. No one is irreplacable; there will always be someone to step up and fill the void.

Perhaps we're to learn humility from this and never let our ego grow so large as to think WE are irreplacable. It was a great shock when I was sidelined by cancer to realize people could go on without me, and yet that's how it has to be. We're only here for a short time, so instead of focusing on selfish interests, we ought to focus on the One who brought us into existence and Who desires our love and obedience. Then we can fully experience the purpose of this life as expressed by the Preacher in Ecclesiastes 12:13, "Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man."

Or put another way in Micah 6:8, "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?"

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