Parable # 45: Nothing’s Happening—That You Can See

    A Parable by Donald Lee

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    (This week is the 48thinstallment of the book, “The Band Director’s Lessons About Life”, which TCRN is publishing as a series during 2020. This week, band director and spiritual author Donald Lee relates a parable about patience. For a complete listing of previous episodes in this series, click here.)

    Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.

    ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON(Nineteenth-century Scottish novelist)

    Oliver was one of the first grade-eight students to wander in. He sauntered listlessly across the room, stopping in the percussion section to fiddle with the drums. He found an errant pair of drumsticks and started to bang away on a snare drum, then the xylophone and cymbals. Oliver played the euphonium and knew he shouldn’t be messing with the percussion instruments. I casually wandered over.

    “Hi, Oliver. How’re you doing?” I asked.

    “Okay,” he said flatly.

    He didn’t stop or give me eye contact. Oliver had exhibited this behavior just recently. He hadn’t started the year that way. Something had changed.

    “You know we have a playing test coming up next week. Instead of noodling with the percussion instruments, maybe you should get out your euphonium and practice your test piece,” I gently reminded him.

    “Yeah,” he said despondently.

    Apart from his reluctant agreement, Oliver didn’t change his behavior.

    “You seem to have lost your enthusiasm lately, Oliver. What’s happening?” I asked.

    “I don’t know. I don’t seem to be getting any better.”

    “Hmmm.” No brilliant motivational thoughts sprang immediately to mind. “Well, how about you get out your euphonium anyway?” By the time everyone was seated and ready to begin, an idea had started to form in my mind.

    “Good morning, everyone. I have something to share with you. Sometimes when we practice, we get immediate improvement. That feels great. As humans, we seem to need instant gratification. It’s really hard to keep working when we don’t see any improvement.

    “But sometimes that’s exactly what happens. We work and we practice, but nothing seems to change. It’s frustrating. It’s hard to be patient. It’s like when you’re fishing and you don’t get a bite for hours. You want to give up and go back to shore. But you never know when the fish will bite. If you had fished just a little longer, maybe you would have caught something.

    “You will go through periods in your musical development when you don’t seem to be getting any better. It’s disappointing. You want to quit. It’s not fun anymore.

    “I hate to break the news to you, but this is normal. You have to keep going to get through these rough patches. If you quit, you’ll never become a musician. Just like if you quit fishing, you’ll never catch a fish.

    “It’s a bit like planting seeds. We put the seeds in the ground and water them every day, but we don’t see anything change. We start to wonder if anything is really happening. We want to dig up the seeds and check. Growth is happening under the surface—we just can’t see it. The changes are inside. They just take time to appear on the outside.

    “Then one day the seeds suddenly burst forth from the soil. The stems grow, buds appear, and finally, the flowers blossom. It seems miraculous. And it is—sort of.

    “What you are doing every day with practice and rehearsal is planting seeds. Knowledge and learning are going in. They need to germinate—to put down roots. You might not see anything happening because it’s happening inside you. But don’t get discouraged. Keep watering those seeds. They will sprout. Your learning will manifest outside you. Keep going and you will become a musician.”


    In your daily performance, if you have not yet manifested your inner vision of your best self, it might just need more time. We humans are an impatient lot. We want it now—but everything happens through time in this material universe.

    Change happens first in the mental realm—with changes in our thoughts. The mental image we hold of our best self truly isus. It exists in the mental realm just as surely as the seed in the soil has germinated into a new plant. It just takes time to manifest in the material realm. “Faith” is what we call our confidence in the eventual outcome of that germination. As St. Paul says, “Faith is the evidence of things unseen” (Heb 11:1).

    It still takes work on our part—planting good seeds, fertilizing, watering, and weeding. We can’t just sit back and expect God or nature to do everything without effort on our part. But if we nurture and care for that image of our best self, it will indeed manifest as the beautiful flower we created. You are the flower of God. Your fragrance will fill the world. It just takes time to blossom. Have faith.

    Often our growth is interior and unseen. The roots of our spiritual vision need time to grow before the beautiful flower that is us can blossom.

    Donald Lee is a spiritual author and speaker. This article is part of a weekly series for 2020 in which TCRN is publishing his inspirational book, The Band Director’s Lessons About Life: Volume 1 – 50 Parables on Life’s Performance Cycle, in serial form – one parable per week. You can learn more about the author at his website:, or order a copy of his complete book on Amazon, or get his free mini eBook and sign up for his weekly blog. Follow Donald on Facebook.

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