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A trumpet and a lesson in trust

Our sixth-grader wasn’t sure he wanted to try out for the middle school jazz band. He had missed the real audition, and the teacher made the make-up audition sound really challenging. He was discouraged. He went back and forth on whether he should do it.We talked it over for a whole evening, as I listened and tried to figure out what he wanted to do.

Finally, I said, “If I told you I’d give you two dollars to try, would you do it?” He said he would.

“Then I think you actually want to do it,” I said. “Because two dollars isn’t enough to make you do something you really don’t want to do.”

He decided to give it a shot. But I could tell he was nervous.

The next day I prayed that the audition would go well – not that he would be picked, but simply that he would feel good about his attempt.

I talked to God and to St. Cecelia, patron saint of music. Then I thought of my brother-in-law, Eric, who died two years ago. Eric loved music. He had this rich, resonant baritone, and he introduced our boys to the trumpet. I remember how he patiently let them try to play it, blowing through the mouthpiece and fingering the valves (see photo). He loved our sons, knew music, and understood wanting to do well.

So, I asked Eric to intercede. As I spoke to him, I felt the most wonderful rush of warmth go through me – a sense of peace I’ve only felt a few times when speaking to people I love who have passed away. I was so grateful for that connection. I set my concerns aside.

I could almost see my attorney brother-in-law, wearing his blue button-down shirt and polished shoes, approaching Jesus to explain clearly and compassionately just how important this audition was to his trumpet-playing nephew on earth. I smiled thinking that this audition was in someone else’s hands.

Later that afternoon, when I pulled up outside the school, our trumpet player came running out to the car. He didn’t know whether he would make it, but he thought it had gone well.

There was even a shining moment where he said, “Mom, you’re probably going to say, ‘See, I told you so.’ ” Which, for the record, I didn’t. I was just relieved that he was content with his audition.

“I told you so.” How many times could parents say that? Over and over, you see your children end up with scraped knees or tears or disappointment when they could have easily listened. We encourage them to try something new, and they resist – whether it’s tasting green beans or reading Harry Potter or auditioning for a band. But sometimes parents do know best.

Perhaps our Father in heaven looks at us the same way. He sent his Son to show us how to live. He puts signs in our path to nudge us in the right direction. Yet often we don’t listen to His voice. We might be nervous to take on something new and scary. But maybe He knows it’s just what we need – and will enjoy.

God could certainly say, time and again, “I told you so.” But he doesn’t. He simply loves us unconditionally and presents us with more opportunities for us to grow.

The challenge for us might be to trust him, knowing that he wants what’s best for us and that he knows us better than we know ourselves. He knew that Moses was the one to lead his people out of Egypt. He knew that the Blessed Mother was the one to bear and raise his Son. And, in a lesser–known story, he knew that, even though only two sixth-graders would be chosen for the jazz band, our son would be one of them.

As Easter and the start of spring bring new beginnings, maybe our Lord has something different in mind for us. May we trust him and be open to the opportunities that lie ahead, knowing we may be ready to grow and thrive in new ways.