November 27, 2012
Excerpt from Revelation 11:15-19
"Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven."
Reflection by Donna Schaper
Everybody knows Washington Square Park in New York City is not heaven, just a hint thereof. There is a man in Washington Square Park who plays the trumpet mornings between about 8 and 9. He has less competition from the sirens at that time of day and a more meditative clientele. By evening, half the park is drunk, another third is chemically enhanced, and the sober people are rushing through the park to get home. The NYU students are throwing Frisbees, with less than perfect aim. Often the Frisbees hit the old men who are garrisoned behind their walkers. The old ladies have all been out in the morning, aware that the park is no place for someone with calcium insecurity in their bones.
I have a feeling the morning trumpet player works for the angels, that he is on retainer. He takes his horn into long slow notes in a way that makes you think you don't really have to get to work. He doesn't finish a piece until he is ready to finish it, and sometimes you're not sure it is over at all. Some of his notes hang so long in the air that you want to get a net and put it under them and catch them. The cops like him. The pigeons like him. The little dogs in the little dog park yap too much to hear anything. The tourists aren't out yet because at those prices for a hotel you should sleep as long as possible. But if they were to get up early, or to look up from their guidebooks, they would find Mr. Heaven, already at work, blowing his horn. Music does things to people that nothing else can. Maybe heaven is like that too.
Maybe heaven also restores what is lost. Surely you know the joke, "What happens if you play a country music song backwards? Your dog comes back, your wife comes back, and the bank forgives your mortgage." Isn't that what we say about heaven, that a better thing has come, that debts are forgiven, that we meet those we have loved and lost there?
You have a feeling the trumpet player goes to a regular job after his morning measure. There is another man who wheels a piano in around 3 p.m. and starts to get people ready for the evening heaven. I know nothing about heaven and may never know anything about heaven. But I know there's music. I know the trumpet's sound.
Whenever the trumpet sounds, may we be sure to hear it. Amen.
About the Author
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Check out her blog, Grace at Table, at donnaschaper.com.
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