(This week is the 53rd and finalinstallment 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 not staying stuck. For a complete listing of the episodes in this series, click here. I hope you have enjoyed reading my parables!)
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
KHALIL GIBRAN(Early Twentieth-century Lebanese-American writer, poet, artist)
“That was beautiful,” I whispered.
The high school band had just played through the Pavane, Opus 50, by Gabriel Faure. It ends so delicately, a series of gentle staccato notes finally landing on a sustained pianissimo. I held out the last note, then gently released it, paused for a moment while the whole universe was held in suspended animation, then relaxed. The room was perfectly silent. It was exquisite.
Students now shuffled in their chairs, cleared their throats, but didn’t speak. They felt it too.
“It is such a joy to conduct you guys. You’re beautiful. I love all of you.”
The high school students were used to my “love talk” by now.
“Our concert next week is going to be one of our best. We have rehearsed and performed these pieces enough that you can really bring out the music in them. And you have such maturity in your playing. Musical maturity. Emotional maturity.”
There were nods and murmurs of agreement throughout the band. Everyone was subdued after that heartfelt performance of one of the most hauntingly beautiful pieces of music in the world.
“But for some of you, this will be the last concert of your high school life. Never again will you play in your school band.”
Students looked at each other and around the room. There were seniors sprinkled in most sections of the band. We had quite a few this year. In a couple of weeks, June would be over, and with it, another school year. My high school band would be decimated. Next September would be a very different group.
“This time of year always brings a mixture of nostalgia, elation, regret, and a bit of fear. You seniors will be moving on to a completely new phase of your lives. Maybe it’s college, maybe an apprenticeship, maybe traveling the world. Exciting and challenging opportunities await you. Many of you have been together since kindergarten. It’s almost hard to imagine life apart from all your classmates. But you will never be together like this again. Everything changes. Change is the only constant in life.
“All of you have some plans, some vision of who you are now going to become once June is over. I would love to keep you seniors here another year. Don’t you want to come back? You could have an easy grade-thirteen year. Take Phys.Ed. and cooking. Upgrade your marks. And play in band. Who wants to do that?” I said excitedly.
There were no takers. The seniors just laughed. They knew it was time to leave. Once the little birds can fly, it’s time to leave the nest.
“I know. I can’t keep you here. Your time in high school has come to an end, and you must move on.
“You may think I have dwelt on this obvious progression too long. But there is method in my madness. You see, all of you understand this transition of graduating from high school. But life holds more transitions than you might expect. And I am about to make one myself. It is also time for me to move on in life. I will be leaving Glenmary School and the teaching profession at the end of this month.”
“Mr. Lee! Why are you quitting?” exclaimed Patty, aghast.
“It’s interesting you put it that way, Patty,” I said with a chuckle. “The seniors are graduating. That’s good. But I’m quitting? And that’s bad? What a different perspective. You expect grade-twelve students to graduate and leave school, but you expect teachers to remain teachers forever. You expect yourselves to change and grow, but you expect adults to be unchanging. Just as the seniors are ready to move on to new adventures, so am I. I’m starting a new career. I’m going to be a writer.”
“What are you going to write?” asked Paul.
“I’m nearly done my first book. It’s a book of modern-day parables inspired by my teaching experience. Just as the seniors have a new and greater vision of who they will become, so do I, and I must grow into that new vision of who I am.”
I had pretty much lost them at that point—far too metaphysical. But I certainly felt it was time for me to move on. Perhaps I had already “tarried with yesterday” too long.
We can never remain as we are—frozen in time—at any age. We change whether we want to or not. Our bodies gradually wither and wear out. But we are not our bodies. Our true nature is our soul. Our body is temporary, our soul is eternal. Life—even the life of the soul—is change, development, and growth. So spiritual growth must be an eternal process. We often think of heaven as a place where souls sit around and do nothing for eternity. That would be hell! Surely God has more in mind for us than that. Whatever happens to our soul when our physical body dies, I’m sure our spiritual growth continues.
It’s almost time to begin the next leg of your spiritual journey. You have prepared, practiced, and performed well. Just like the high school band, you masterfully bring out the music of who you really are. In the great performance cycle of life, you must now envision an even greater version of who you really are.
What lies before youare an infinite number of potentialities, potential futures. Your choices decide your future—not the stars, not your past, not your upbringing. It’s in your hands. What will it be for you?
God is gently calling you to your next stage of becoming. Listen to that still, small voice in your heart and follow where it leads.
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: www.ComingHomeSpirit.com, 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.