Following the Music

Posted by on Jul 26, 2014 in Articles | 0 comments

Music.  Above the loudspeaker (VERY loud-speaker!), above the laughing and conversation, above the constant flow of people – music.  It surprised me to hear those sweet notes when I made my way from the Amtrak check-in counter to an available seat in the waiting area.  Constant noise had been my companions since stepping through the doors from my hotel onto the busy streets of Manhattan.  I didn’t mind the noise.  The noise was life – cars, buses, bicycle-driven carriages and people going from place to place.  The blowing horns and laughter, all were the sounds of life.  After two days of those constant sounds of life, the gentle strumming of the guitar, whispering from the corner of the waiting area, shocked me.  I had to see whose fingers made that guitar sing.


He was easy to spot.  Alone in the farthest corner, head down, his old guitar propped on his knee, sat the music-maker.  I took one of the empty seats across from him, settled my bags under my seat and watched his fingers move over the strings.  His multi-colored Jamaican hat allowed a few black curls to escape.  His brown skin was weathered, his clothes were faded.  I tried not to stare, but I couldn’t help myself.  His emotions showed on his face as he poured out his soul with each note.  I was soon lost in that wonderful music.


“You make it easy for me to play,” his soft voice spoke over the notes.  He smiled at me and stopped playing.  “You’re a good listener.”


“Your playing reminds me of my son,” I replied with a smile.  “Every emotion with every note shows on his face when he plays just like it does on yours.”


“Your son plays the guitar?” he asked.


“And the trumpet,” I said.  “It’s obvious you love to play.”


He strummed a few more notes before gently placing the guitar in its battered case.  “It’s a kind of therapy for me.”  He extended his hand to me.  “My name is Daniel, by the way.”


I was taken off guard for a moment.  Shaking his hand, I said “That’s my son’s name.”


“No way!”  He shook his head and chuckled.  “What brought you to New York?”


“My book.  I received an award last night.”  I took a copy of my book from my tote bag and handed it to him.


“Never met an author before,” he said, turning the book over to read the description.  His smile soon fell away, sadness taking its place as he read about the faith of the characters in the novel.  He nodded and gripped the book in his hands.  “I’ve been wrestling with my faith lately.”  His voice was quiet and strained.  “I’m a social worker and grief counselor.”


He went on to share with me some of his recent struggles, some of the questions he had been asking God.  The people he interacted with on a daily basis were so broken, so lost.  “Things have been hard lately,” he said softly.  “I needed to get away for a while.  I’m going to Miami to visit family for a couple of weeks.  I’ve just got to get some things sorted out in my head.”


“God knows what you need, Daniel.  We all struggle with our faith from time to time.”  We spoke of faith and God’s mercy.  I reminded him that everything that happens in our lives works together according to God’s plan.  “You have a place in that plan, Daniel,” I said to him.  “Don’t give up.”


He leaned over to hand the book back to me as his train was called for boarding.  “That’s me.”


“Keep it.  I think you have a long train ride ahead.  I’ll pray for you, Daniel.”


He smiled, shook my hand and made his way out of the waiting area.  “Thanks,” he called back.


I watched him go and said a silent prayer – a prayer that God would give him answers for his struggles and a prayer of thanks to God for me.  I had spent that morning questioning my decision to go to New York.  I had wondered what purpose, other than to receive my award and spend an evening with fellow authors and publishers, my trip had served.  I had a great time while I was there, but I had wondered if it had been selfish and foolish of me to take an expensive trip for the sole purpose of being honored.


When my new friend left for his train, the small voice in my head reminded me that there is a purpose in everything.  There was a reason for my trip that went beyond the award, the mingling, the expense.  God knew I needed to be there at that moment for a man I’d never met before, to offer encouragement to keep his eyes on the Lord.


“What’s a soul worth, Eileen?” the gentle voice asked.  “Just trust Me.  Stop worrying about what your job is costing you.  Let Me worry about the money.  You just keep doing what I’ve called you to do.”


“Thank you, Lord,” I said quietly.


My train was called; I gathered my bags and joined the line of travelers waiting to board.  After a few minutes in line, the man in front of me turned and commented on the slow-moving line.  Before long, we were deep in conversation.  “I’m on my way to Rochester,” he said.  “My father died last night…”


The voice whispered “See.  You’re here for a reason.”



“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:28


“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall make straight your paths.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

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