Old Things Made New

If music be the food of love, play on!” – Anna Russell, comedian and lampooner of the opera world in the mid-20th century, quoting Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”

Hauser is playing in the background as I begin to compose this latest foray into life in the slower lanes. I only recently discovered him by chance. And he and his cello have changed my life in an hour and 31:25 minutes, which is the length of the first video that I watched. A concert in Zagreb, featuring him.

Stjepan Hauser is a 38-year-old Croatian cellist who has been wowing the world for many years, and yet it took me this long to find him. On YouTube, of course. Hauser is handsome, sexy, passionate, supremely gifted, and singularly able to physically transmit his passion for his music on the screen and in person. He is as much of a delight to watch as to listen to. Charismatic comes to mind. Oh, goodness, yes.

His interpretations bring new power to the old favorites. They also bind my soul to those newer works that open the doors to untapped places in my heart.

His music has often brought me to tears with its tenderness and its power.

I began to take cello lessons when I was in third grade and played in the orchestras in junior and senior high school, so that warm, mellow sound is familiar to me at a visceral level.

When I went to college, I put away the cello and pursued my other instrument – my voice – and became a professional singer of classical bent. My cello was sold to a young teenager, and singing became my musical “place.” I sang my last solo at age 75. I have been so lucky!

So, to find this consummate cellist this late in my life has been grace on steroids!! And well worth the long wait of nearly 80 years.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I am now in the recovery phase of successful treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. And recovery is its own kind of thing. Unpredictable, tiring, frustratingly slow, but also bringing the graces of surprise: realizing that my fingers are finally stronger so that I can pick up small things more easily; finding myself able to walk more normally, and farther than the week before; noticing creativity opening its door so that writing becomes a joy again. Small things that I used to take for granted now become major victories. I smile a lot more.

Old things become new.

I have wondered for months what changes this cancer journey would work in and through me. I have been attentive to my sometimes mercurial moods and tried not to judge myself when a shadowed day showed up. When I have felt stuck and impatient.

Then I have found another grace on another day when a spring day’s sunshine has shown up (sometimes rare in Minnesota this early…), and I could feel life moving forward again. I wasn’t really stuck. Just resting for a bit.

And then came Hauser, a singular blessing that had received the word that I was ready.

So now the old reappears – those years of sitting with that cello between my knees and trying to imagine myself playing as beautifully as my teacher – and it has returned in a new way. In the grace of an iconic musician and his cello.

It all takes time, this new life that keeps showing up after the hard times. Each of us has a place where we find the inspiration that moves us in another direction. Where what was old, becomes new. Becomes grace.

Hauser’s music is now the inspiration and guide for my meditations. The power, beauty and pathos of his cello is unique, and through it, God’s Spirit breathes my spirit into rest now.

Music has always held that kind of power for me. Now it is again even more integral to my recovery, and I rest content in the sound of its healing beauty. It is still the “food of love.”

The Spirit does show up when we are ready. Grace always bats last, as Anne Lamott reminds us.

Yes, it still does.

And I’m very okay with that.

Now: a bit of Hauser, from the full video, HAUSER – “Live in Zagreb” FULL Classical Concert