After several visits to see my physician and quite a few x-rays, blood tests, and questions like, "Does this hurt? Can you bend this back any further? How long has it been doing this" I learned that I have arthritis. This sort of make sense, really: for the last eight months or so, I've noticed a stiffness and soreness in my hands, ankles, knees, elbows, and neck. On my desk I now have three bottles of delightful medication - Flexeril, Ultram (that was the initial prescription and has been replaced by) Nabumetone.
Now, I haven't any idea what this means for me in the longterm except that I can expect the soreness and stiffness to linger, if not worsen. My first concern was that I might eventually lose the ability to play music. While this is a possibility, I suspect, I can still play two days of feis music on the accordion and I wasn't too much worse for the wear afterward. I also realized that I've never been guaranteed another day of playing - I could, after all, get run over by a bus or lose a finger in a freak stapling accident - so I will embrace, albeit a bit stiffly, what I have now and treasure it for as long as possible.
I take great comfort in the words of Jesus to Mary of Magdala: Noli me tangere (in the Vulgate) or "Do not hold on to me." Mary, having suffered the traumatic loss of her Lord, naturally reached out to grasp the Risen One that Easter morning. Her arms, too, ached. Her heart knew the grief that so much feels like fear. Her instinct to horde her Lord is wholly understandable. Yet Jesus is not something to be grasped at or owned. Quite to the contrary! It is the encounter with the Conqueror of Death that etches are heart with an indelible mark, a scar, which feeds our lives and ministries. To be free to live out her discipleship, Mary had to risk letting go of what she loved the most in order to love the most.
I'm not quite ready to let go of music. Though there is a sense that the 'fast fingers' I've always enjoyed will eventually slow down, I know enough to treasure the gift I have now but that, in time, I will be forced to let it go. Were I never to play a note again, God forbid, I would never cease to be a musician, for my heart has long been shaped and contoured by the music I have played and loved for nearly twenty-five years.