Saturday, January 15, 2011

FINGER

My son John and I teach guitar classes in the lower level of the Farmington Arts Center: Thursday evenings; Beginner, Intermed and Advanced. Many of our advanced students have been with us nearly three years. I think I’ve taught them everything I know, so I have to learn new things every week to pass on to them. For instance this week I taught about modulating keys, and in the process had to do a little studying up on the circle of 5th’s. Johnny really knows more than I do; but we both have a rather distorted bank of knowledge in the guitar area since neither of us ever took lessons ourselves. Sort of reminds me of faith, or more accurately, testimony. We learn bits and pieces out of order, so the building blocks sit all skiwampusy, and sometimes they topple over and we have to start over again trying to figure out what we believe and why we believe it and how to work logic into emotion and such. Dave, having learned the gospel as an adult, line upon line in intelligent order, has the simplest most beautiful testimony I know. And he’s the brightest man I know, smarts-wise. And he’s the happiest man I know. He’s just not weighed down with too much logic in one area and not enough in another.

Johnny and I, at least in regard to guitar if not testimony, know quite a bit in some areas and not enough in others. But by teaching, we are learning. He’s a better learner than I, and it’s rather lovely I think, to be able to learn from one’s son like I am learning from John.

This week one of our beginner students, an adult woman playing a youth size Wal-Mart guitar, moaned aloud: “Is it possible to have fingers that are just too fat to play guitar?” I let her use my guitar for the lesson, since hers kept going out of tune. So I was trying to help teach with this youth size guitar, out of tune I might add, and I kept looking at my own hands. Short, stocky fingers with tell-tale age spots like so many Parrish women have. My fingernails are suffering from a long and demanding Christmas performance season. My sad paper-thin nails disintegrate from over-plucking guitar strings and I end up needing artificial nails on the picking hand when I play night after night. Those poor petite women in the nail shop were so distressed that I only wanted artificial nails on my right hand.
“No, you need nail on left hand to match.”
“Actually, I don’t”
“Sure you do! Here, let me just do little nails…to match!”
Drove ‘em crazy!

In the process of analyzing my most unattractive chubby age spotted hands Thursday night, I was struck in an instant with gratitude. It seriously hit so abruptly that my eyes welled up and I had to shake my head and focus on what Johnny was teaching so I wouldn’t go down into the well of emotion that is so hard for me to pull myself out of.

First I remembered this:
The Monday of Thanksgiving week, after a most spectacular evening performing in Libby Gardner Hall at the University of Utah, with my favorite musician friends playing and harmonizing beside me and a string quartet on the other side; with a 170 voice choir singing back-up (seriously…how amazing can reality get?) I chopped my finger at 1 am while trimming the flowers they had given me.
 We spent the remainder of that night in the ER getting 5 stitches in the index finger of my chording hand.
You’d have to be…or pretend to be…a guitar player to understand the gravity of that situation. I had booked almost two dozen performances for the coming month, and I had two concerts (both sold out) in less than one week. On the left hand the job of the finger tip is to smash that skinny little string against the neck of the guitar so hard that it rings clear with the note you want to play. Add to that the fact that I do quite a bit of hammering on and pulling off in my arrangements.
So Dave of the mighty faith gave me a blessing.
And I prayed.
And I played every gig, including both concerts, through December.

Thanks to God and LuLu’s Special Blend (my friend Carla’s blend of special oils- she really should sell that stuff!) and the Bone-Skin-Cartilage pills my friend Linda brought over, I watched my finger heal before my eyes.

By Christmas this is what that finger looked like, even with the stress of playing.

In fact, looking back on it, I believe the whole thing was a gift from the Lord to remind me that He is blessing me. Constantly. Without me noticing, usually. Only I noticed this time because I needed that finger to testify. When I sing; when I play; I testify. Even if only to myself.

I was reminded again that He has healed me often. My stiff electric rubber feet remind me. Sometimes the peripheral neuropathy I live with makes me sad. The sad usually only lasts a moment though, because I realize that in spite of the pain, I can walk! I can walk on my feet which once were paralyzed by Guillain Barre Syndrome. And I can move my once useless arms. And my hands, even with their age spots and chubby fingers, can move along the neck of my guitars and make music without hardly thinking. There was a time I thought I would never again be able to use my hands, let alone play guitar. Look at me now: I am strong enough to lift my little Ruby and swing her onto my hip! I can even sort of try to dance with Sophie, and semi-shoot a basketball with Timo (though I will never again in this life be able to do a jump shot. My whole basketball balance is gone.)

I know first hand (excuse the pun) that my Lord can heal me. Not that He always will. I trust that He is aware, because He has shown me inside in my center buzzy space and outside in places like the tip of my finger and the tips of new born nerve endings in my extremities. The day He decides not to heal me I will also trust Him. I pray to have the strength to take whatever comes whenever it comes, because even if God doesn’t intervene or rescue or heal; it is enough to know He can.

4 comments:

  1. A most wonderful bedtime story for me.
    Thank you, Cori.
    Good night.

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  2. Sure love you Cori! You're an amazing woman!

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  3. Lovely. My own faith pastiche image is a scrap quilt, but then, it does not have the dynamic characteristics of the building blocks - instead, I just slap a patch on and adjust the opacity (wait—that's a Photoshop metaphor - and keep on going, all the while, with the quilt keeping me warm when it is cold outside, which it still is. I have known that healing, too, and been left amazed. Gratitude is the basis of humility, I think, Maybe of everything. Gratitude and amazement.

    (My security sord is "miabless." I laugh.

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