The Oboe and Trombone Players
Bruce Carter of Midland, TX, USA
May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. -Galatians 6:14
Our son, Cole, made All City Freshman Band as an oboist so Jackie and I went to hear the band play. As I looked around at the crowd, the man next to me captured my attention. He had the features of people I had met in Vietnam. I scanned the program for names of band members. When I came to the trombones I noted a Vietnamese last name with an Americanized first name.
“How strange,” I thought. “I am sitting in an auditorium thousands of miles from this man’s home, and he is sitting next to me.” I thought about the eleven names on the local monument of soldiers who died in that faraway place. Now this man and I were here. They were not. I thought of how maddening it must have been for Corky’s parents wondering all those years about what happened and not knowing until his helicopter was found. I remembered John’s first airborne assault-then suddenly gone. I remembered how I felt when I had to court martial a sergeant who murdered a Vietnamese woman.
After the concert I asked if he had a child in the band. He said he did. I pretended to scan the program, came to his son’s name, and asked if that was him. He laughed. “Not hard to find, huh?” I told him my son played the oboe.
He told me he was from Saigon, Vietnam. I told him I had spent a year there. He asked if I was a soldier. I said yes, then asked if he was going to take his son for a visit. He said he was, adding that his family had been in the US for a long time, but he had been here only seven years. I learned he was a physician in Saigon, then told him I was glad he made it here and wished him well on his summer visit back home.
Odd how life turns. I never wanted to go to his country, and he likely never wanted to leave it. Things did not work out for either of us. No doubt his memories held more names of the departed than mine did. But one evening we sat side by side. Our boys played the same music together beautifully. As I shook his hand, I felt I was saying goodbye to part of me. I recalled the scripture, “Be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another.” Life goes on in its never-ending circle. You never know when or where you will find truth and the opportunity to see.
Wherever I am, God is here.
Breathe deeply and prayerfully consider the story you have just read. What is the Spirit’s invitation to you in these words? What does it look like to wake up to God’s presence in this moment?
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