The snow plows had cleared the way for people to be out and about just after the storm. Four to five inches of fresh, snow covered the formerly brownish banks that bordered the road into town. After days of outside sub-zero temps, making it dangerous to go anywhere, I could breathe again as I ventured out of my cabin to break my fever.
On the car radio, the announcer told a brief story of the life of Leon Fleisher, before playing his piano selection, Schafe Konnen Sicher Wieden, What amazed me about this pianist was the fact that, after having lost the use of his right hand for 35 years, he was playing this song in particular: “Sheep May Safely Graze.” The man was then 88 years old at the time of the recording and it was breath-taking.
As I made it to the library before the music concluded, I stayed in my car to enjoy the last few phrases of one of my favorite pieces by J.S. Bach. Mr Fleischer’s right hand must have recovered well because every note was played perfectly and was pure joy to my heart.
A quick look into this man’s life revealed that he is a Jewish man, who at the peak of his career as a pianist, began to watch a “slow motion catastrophe.” (MPR) His last two fingers began to contract, curling up into his palm, eventually rendering that hand useless. He went on to play for 35 years various compositions that only required his left hand, and only in recent years, thanks to the muscle relaxing effects of Botox was he able to play again with both hands.
Other than the fantastic details of his physical recovery, I wonder about the details of his mental recovery. I don’t know what he believed about the God of the Jews, but the fact that he played “Sheep May Safely Graze,” is what some would consider an ironic choice of music, considering God allowed him to lose the use of his hand for all those years.
Could it be that Mr. Fleisher really believed that sheep could safely graze? Can sheep really trust the Good Shepherd with all the details of their lives, even when the Shepherd takes things away that are seemingly good?
Do I really believe the Shepherd is good?
Sheep may safely graze and pasture
Where a Shepherd guards them well
By still waters ere he feeds them,
To the fold he gently leads them,
Where securely they may dwell
The song replayed in my head all the way home and after arriving, I got out of my car and looked up into the sky. It was a brilliant blue pasture for the flocks of fluffy, white clouds floating so beautifully across its expanse.
The air, the music, the views, all reminded me once again; He is good.
He is The Good Shepherd.
His very name– God, means good.
You are good and do only good; make me follow your lead. (Psalm 119:68)