Tuesday, March 11, 2008

MUSIC OF THE HEART

In 1982, New Yorker Roberta Gaspari was served with divorce papers. No reasons were given, no calls were returned; her husband of ten years just disappeared, leaving her with two young sons and only her wits to provide for them. She felt crushed, but not for long. 

All she knew was to give violin lessons, but it soon was apparent that would not provide them a living. So she went to the East Harlem School District and offered to teach violin to students for no pay. If they were pleased, she said, they could offer her a staff position. It was a hard sell, but finally they gave her a semester trial period.

Within year, Roberta Gaspari had over a hundred violin students, there in the middle of the East Harlem slums. Her gentle yet firm attitude not only taught many young musicians, it changed many lives. She was offered a teaching position and her popular programs brought hundreds of children to her auditions each year. Some of her students were accepted into major music schools, including Julliard and Eastman. 

In 1993, she was shocked to learn her program was to be cut for lack of funds. With hundreds of students waiting to learn the violin, the school district had chosen not to fund her work. Ms. Gaspari felt crushed, but not for long. She offered to find funds to keep her program going, and school officials finally agreed but offered no assistance. With some parents she planned a benefit concert and all seemed to go well until one day a parent came with bad news, The hall they'd rented was condemned and couldn't be used, and the concert was only a month away! Again, Roberta Gaspari felt crushed, but not for long. 

Word of her plight came to another violinist who offered her the use of a hall for her concert, "But only," he said, "if I and some of my friends may play along." It turned out to be Carnegie Hall, and the man was Isaac Stern and his friends included Izaak Perlman, Arnold Steinhart and other violin virtuosos. The benefit concert was so well received that her East Harlem violin program was fully endowed and is still going today. Young lives are still being changed, and violin music is heard in the streets of East Harlem.  

Roberta Gaspari could have given up many times, but she did not. She often felt crushed, but not for long. The 1999 film, "Music of the Heart," details her story more fully.

As you and I are faced with obstacles on our journey, we can't avoid feeling crushed from time to time. We may feel like we're being pushed into the ditch on the road of life, but it's up to us if we are going to stay in the ditch or get back on the road.

Jesus has walked that road for you and has earned you forgiveness and a new start. God has a plan for us to be with Him forever by faith. The potholes or rough roads can either make us give up, or they can make us work harder and find newer ways to travel, ways that include Him at our sides.

Whatever happens, let Jesus be your travelling companion wherever you go.

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