A Delightful Surprise

by Mary Nitzsche, Associate Executive Minister

My husband Wayne and I recently attended a benefit event for a local non-profit, which included an auction.  Surveying the silent auction items, Wayne spotted a beautifully-crafted Martin guitar and asked if I had any interest in it.

I had not played a guitar for over 10 years and had donated my old guitar to a thrift store with no intentions of ever playing again.

The Martin guitar’s beauty and three-quarter-size caught my attention. I agreed to add our bid to the sheet.

Periodically, Wayne checked to see if others were adding their bid. Several times he asked my permission to increase our bid.

Doubt began to creep into my mind each time I consented.  Could I relearn the chords? Would playing the guitar aggravate the pain in my hand? Would I gain confidence to accompany singing in my congregation since I was never that accomplished before? At my age, could I improve my skill?

As the bids increased, I wondered about our dollar limit. The five-minute call came for the close of bidding. Wayne noticed a person at the table increasing their bid. One last time he asked me if I wanted the guitar. I was non-committal, but Wayne was determined, yet courteous. He asked the other bidder how badly she wanted the guitar and learned she was not as serious as he thought.

At the conclusion of the benefit, Wayne and I returned home with the guitar, knowing our donation would make a difference in the lives of people.

After arriving at home, I gently lifted my new guitar out of the case. I attempted to tune the guitar and was amazed that I remembered how to tune it without consulting Internet instructions! When I attempted to play a chord, I couldn’t remember any fingerings. Several days later, I printed a chart of the primary guitar chords. I struggled through the first song, looking back and forth from the chart to the song sheet while playing very slowly.  My confidence was rattled, yet I persisted with a different song.

All of a sudden, something clicked.

My long-term memory caught up with my short-term memory. It was an “ah-ha” moment that I couldn’t explain: the C, G, A, Em, and Am chords came naturally, without even looking at the fingering chart! After playing 20 minutes, my hand ached and my fingers were tender (a sign that I needed to develop calluses). That evening I went to bed cautiously optimistic that the purchase was a good thing.

Several days later, I spent an hour playing my guitar. To my surprise and delight, my ambivalence for purchasing a new guitar and the lack of confidence that I would regain the limited skill I once had was fading. Wayne’s persistence, encouragement, and generosity has inspired me to rediscover my love for singing and playing guitar.

This unexpected gift, a nudging of the Spirit, has given me a renewed spiritual practice for expressing and nurturing my faith.