A few weeks ago, for reasons I really can't explain, I stopped in a pawn shop on the way home from Auburn. My eyes were immediately drawn to a wall behind the counter where a shiny, nickel plated with brass trim trumpet caught my eye.The unique finish and valves told me immedately that is was an early model Conn Connstellation, much like the one my parents had given me in 1965 and that I had played through high school, college, and seminary. I remember that gift as being one of the best gifts I had ever received.
I loved that horn. It helped me reach Colorado All-State Band, receive annual scholarships to Colorado State Music Camp in Fort Collins and music scholarships to the University of Colorado and Colorado State College. I played it for my audtion to the McAllister Conservatory of Music when I transferred to Wheaton College in 1969. I played it in "the Fred Davis Quintet" during the summers of my college years. I played it in churches, high school assemblies, and annually for the Memorial Day Ceremonies at Fort Logan National Cemetary in Denver. That trumpet and I were inseparable friends.
Inseparable, that is, until one sad day, as Judy and I were organizing and packing our things for a move to Renton Washington after my graduation from Seminary. We had many of our valuable things stored in our garage in the house we owned on Hudson Street. Somehow thieves had gotten into the garage and stolen several of our valuable possessions. Most valuable to me was that trumpet.
Seeing the same model (or one very close to it) in the Pawn Shop brought back a flood of memories to me. So, a few days later when Judy asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I hesitated, knowing it cost a lot of money, then bravely answered, "there is this trumpet in a pawn shop..."
A few days before Christmas, a wrapped package showed up under our tree and I knew it could only be one thing - the trumpet I had seen in the Pawn Shop. I couldn't wait to unwrap it and try it out. I am sure our neighbors loved hearing it on Christmas eve at 11:00 after I had unwrapped it. But it was just like I remembered it - smooth valve action, a dark sultry tone, and an ease in the higher register that I haven't enjoyed with the other horns I have owned since.
While we were in Chicago, during a break from Free-for-all Yahtzee, Lego Star Wars and silly movies with Davis, I took some time to go on line and read up as much as I could about these horns. Based on the serial number, the finish, and tubing, I found out that the trumpet Judy had purchased for me was a bit of a collector's item. It was built in in 1956 or 57 in Elkhardt, Indiana by the Conn company. It is a Connstellation 28A, the predecessor to the very popular, professional model 38b Connstellation. Similar horns, some in much less pristine condition than mine, were listed on Ebay and other online sites for 3 to 4 times what Judy had been able to purchase it for.
So, there is no real spiritual application to this blog today. Just a "note" of excitement, gratitude and nostalgia. I have spent about an hour this morning getting reacquainted with and playing this treasured gift. Those who know me know what a role the trumpet - and particularly jazz - has had in my life. Even though my calling to ministry has taken me in a different direction than that I had anticipated in professional music, playing has continued to be a great joy and passion in my life. Tomorrow, I will go join 5 other of my fellow jazz afficionados to rehearse for an upcoming gig. I can't wait to show off and see how my old friend will blend with the other members of By Committee.
What are your passions in life? What things from your past do you cherish? Sure, things like trumpets, or sport, books, or any other thing, cannot begin to take the place of family, friends and faith. But often they are a part of the grace God shows in our lives - gifts of grace if you will. Thus, they are things that shouldn't be locked away in a closet. God encourages us to use our passions for his glory. I hope that the new year will bring you great joy in dusting off blessings, skills, and special possessions and using them to bring joy and grace to others.