Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Song for Chuck

Last night, I went to Glendale Glitters, an annual holiday festival here in Phoenix. I went to see the lights with my friend, and I took my viola along with the intention to get over my anxiety of playing in front of people by myself for the first time in several years. While I was there, I met a man named Chuck.
Chuck is homeless.
Every day, he picks up cans and scrap and takes his findings to a scrap yard, where he recycles it for money.
He does this not to support an addiction or other vice, but because he is trying to rebuild his life from that.
Chuck was a business owner at one time.
Chuck was a carpenter.
Chuck was a fan of Led Zeppelin (he asked me to play “Stairway to Heaven”, I did my best to translate it on the viola).
And, I think what struck me most: Chuck was a violinist.
He stopped to listen because the sound was sweet, and familiar. He told me he played from 3rd grade until he graduated high school. He played it until a carpentry accident caused him to lose the fingertips, and his sense of touch, on his left hand. Even after that, he taught himself to play with his opposite hand.
Chuck made mistakes in life, as we all do, which led him to where he is now, but he hasn't let that define him. He’s owned it, and he works hard - despite appearances and society’s perspective - to better his life now. He lives part of the time with a group of young adults who are on the path he took years ago, and he tries to convince them to better themselves now. He applies for jobs with a friend’s tablet.
I offered him the money that I had gathered from people passing by, but he refused, insisting that I’d earned it playing my music, and that I should keep it.
Chuck is a human being deserving of compassion, living in an uncompassionate world.
For an hour last night, I was blessed with the incredible honor of playing music for a man who probably appreciated it more than anyone else I'll ever encounter, because for that hour, someone saw him not as homeless, not as an ex-con
vict, but as a human being.
soli Deo gloria