During our stay in the hospital, one day passed rapidly into another. I found reading difficult, as there were always people coming and going. Thankfully, I had brought my sketch pad and colored pencils. Unlike reading, where I would have to shut people out to concentrate, with sketching I could embrace the interruptions, listen in on the discussions around me, and truly be there for the family.
Above all the nurses and ICU staff, one visit proved particularly memorable. A woman introduced herself as a volunteer, and asked if the patient would like to hear a little music. When my sick family member answered "Yes," she wheeled in a harp.
Yes, you read that right: a harp.
I've played the piano all my life, and heard all the instruments that people typically play in church. I've always listened to music at home, from records to tapes to today's Compact Discs. Yet I've never really grown accustomed to hearing someone play the harp. I believe it says in the Old Testament that David played the harp for King Saul, and that the music eased his ruler's troubled brow. I can imagine that. It's such an elegant instrument, and she played it beautifully. She may have only played for a few minutes, but I could have listened to her for hours.
You know, in his novel The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien records that Thorin Oakenshield played the harp. I'm not sure where or how he carried it as he traveled, but he played it that night he and the other dwarves visited Bilbo's little home in Hobbiton. In fact, all the dwarves played their own instruments. I'm not sure what happened to all those musical instruments after that. I don't remember the dwarves ever playing them again during their journey. Maybe they had to trade them in to buy their provisions for their adventure. In any case, it's sad they lost those instruments, particularly Thorin's harp. I bet they would have escaped the elves in Mirkwood much more easily, or perhaps even won their friendship, had they played so beautifully for the elves as they did that night in Bilbo's house. Don't you agree?