Saturday, October 14, 2023

 “Ta Ta Ti Ti Ta”

Ms. Shoemate entered my 1st grade classroom wearing one blue shoe and one red shoe…the irony was lost on me at the time.  She wheeled a shelving cart stacked with bins containing a vast array of rudimentary musical instruments.  I could see blue sticks and green sticks, black wooden boxes, mallets with long skinny handles, a few different styles of drums, a variety of bells, and even a triangle. 

I instantly began salivating upon spying the triangle.  I had watched enough episodes of Gunsmoke to know that the triangle was primarily used to call for victuals.  Not only did my tummy rumble with hunger, but my gut longed for the opportunity to play such a splendid and unique instrument. 

Before we could get to the distribution of the instruments, Ms. Shoemate began working through the regular music instruction, cuing the class on proper rhythms and tempos. 

“All right class…listen carefully and repeat after me and follow my lead.”

Ms. Shoemate then clapped her hands together once and sharply inserted the word, “ta,” at the same time.

“Ta.” We clapped and repeated.

“Ta, Ta.” Ms. Shoemate called out…clapping her hands to the rhythm.”

The class copied her perfectly.

“Ta, Ta, Ti, Ti, Ta.”  The Ti, Ti’s were quicker, but we managed the challenge fluidly.

After spending an exorbitant amount of much time mimicking this musical binary code, the time came for the instruments to be distributed.  My hand instantly shot into the air and waved around as if trying to hail a cab in down town Chicago.

“Ooooh, uuuh, eeeeh,” I cried trying to get my hand to touch the louvered fluorescent lights secured to the white, concrete ceiling. 

“Yes, Ryan…do you have a question?”

“Yea, ummm, can I have a triangle?”

“You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit,” Ms. Shoemate curtly replied.

I slumped back into my seat and anxiously awaited my assigned instrument.  As if to add insult to injury, I watched Ms. Shoemate give the triangle to Julie…the obvious teacher’s pet…as the first instrument to be handed out.  As each student received their offering, I continued to hope beyond hope that I wouldn’t get the sticks.  Anything was better than the sticks. Though the triangle was gone, a drum would be nice…even the wood block or the bells…but not the sticks.  They are so boring.

As Ms. Shoemate approached my desk, I saw her pull out a pair of blue sticks and extend them to me.  Reluctantly, I received them.  Once all of the students had their instruments, the music teacher then orchestrated a first class rendition of “Ta Ta Ti Ti Ta” that is yet to be matched to this day. Each student played their given instrument as instructed, and as a whole, the production was a passable success.

I did not receive my instrument of choice, yet, I was just as much a part of the symphony as everyone else.  I can’t help but reflect on Paul’s teachings about the gifts of the Spirit as found in 1 Corinthians 12.  In this passage, Paul addresses one of the problems that the Corinthian church was facing.  It appears  that people were fighting over who had the better gifts.  It was as if the people in this church were all asking for the triangle and no one wants to play the sticks.  However, what Paul clearly lays out for them…and for us…is that EVERY person in the body of Christ matters and is given a gift to be used to encourage the church.

In the same way that I did not get to choose my instrument, I do not get to choose my spiritual gift.  That is the work of the Lord.  My responsibility is to use whichever gift is given to me, for His glory and purpose.    

May we come to, willingly, receive what God offers us and then use every gift faithfully…no matter how great or insignificant the gift may seem. 

No comments:

Post a Comment