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A gift brought back to life

I've had a love for music for nearly as long as I can remember. As a small child, I loved to sing – at home, in school, in church – it made no difference. My parents recently gave me a cassette recording of me singing Christmas songs at age 4 or 5 with their encouragement. As an adult, I’m very thankful that my parents encouraged me to develop that gift of the ability to sing, as it is now an indispensable part of my priestly ministry and is a gift that continues to enrich my life and offer me a great deal of enjoyment.

At 6 or 7, my parents began to coax the growth of another musical gift in me through the gift of piano lessons. My mother was an accomplished pianist as a child and young adult and she played beautifully well into her adult years. Unfortunately, arthritis has silenced that gift. Mom proved to be a very capable piano teacher as well. After a few years of study with her, I moved on to other private teachers and played through my sophomore year in high school.

As my sophomore year began, I knew that the expectations on my time were going to increase rapidly due to increased demands from homework and extracurricular activities. It soon became clear that I couldn’t keep burning the candle at both ends and that I would have to let something go in order to maintain some balance in my life. I decided that I would stop piano lessons and take the time that I had devoted to the piano and apply it to other things that seemed to be more important at the time.

It didn’t take long before I stopped playing piano altogether. Thirty years later, I look back on the decision with a fair amount of regret. The activities that I thought were more critical have long since faded in memory and importance and I find myself wondering how I could have let a more important and life-giving gift become dormant and unused. As the saying goes, hindsight is always 20-20.

I’ve been thinking about sitting down at the piano again during these weeks of Lent to see if a dormant gift can be coaxed back to life. Perhaps I may be surprised that something that seemed dead may indeed be able to be brought back to new life.

Isn’t that why we long for the joys of Easter? A wondrous, God-given gift was dead, resting in the tomb. Mysteriously, through the power of God, Jesus was raised to new and wondrous life. He broke the bonds of sin and death and won for us the gift of eternal life – a gift we cannot allow to be squandered and one which we should never take for granted. Our Lenten journey offers the opportunity for a similar miracle to be worked in us by God. That which was dead is raised to new life as we are drawn out of our own selfish habits into renewed, life-giving relationships with God and with one another. And so, our journey in FAITH continues.