Thursday, June 28, 2007

Non nobis Domine

Two weeks ago when my sister and her husband arrived, son started playing the piano.

He was not trying to show off. He just wanted to play The Entertainer which he enjoyed.

For some reason he could not play a phrase properly. It's a bit of music that he had been playing without a problem before. This caused him immense frustration and there were floods of tears. In the end he tried crawling under the piano again.

There was frustration all round.

When I finally got him to the kitchen where we tried to have a conversation he was going, "I wish I was dead." It's a phrase he repeats often when things go wrong.

"And what good would that do?" I asked. "Who's going to be happy when that happens?"

"I will."

"You can't be happy when you are dead. But Mummy would be sad. Daddy would be sad. Is that what you want? Is that going to make anyone happy?"

He was in deep thought for a while.

"I know who would be happy."

"Who?" I asked.


It frightens me sometimes when my son brings into conversation aspects of the spiritual realm. I get pictures of him turning schizophrenic, "I hear voices telling me to kill ...."

But there in the kitchen I realized that he might well have hit the nail on its head. When I reflect on it now, he does often have these "episodes" after he's been contemplating issues of a religious nature.

When I could finally speak I heard myself saying, "Yes! I think you are right. When you are dead you cannot give any glory to God. You know Satan is the only person who does not wish you to use your music talent or your cleverness to serve God! He does not wish you to use your gifts so that you can give glory to God."

And then like a light has been turned on, son said, "I know what to do."

He went and got a piece of paper and made a poster: 'Down with Satan I love God' and held it to his forehead.

Then he made another drawing: Satan on one side with 'loser' on it and God on the other, the 'winner'.

When I was pregnant my prayer for the unborn child was that he would be a healthy child so that we do not have to be distracted from serving God, that whatever his talents might be, he would use these to God's glory.

We felt blessed that he was born good-looking with a calm nature as well. As he developed, we realized that he is intellectually advanced. Soon after he started learning the piano we had to come to terms with the fact that he is also gifted in music.

His progress has only been hampered by episodes of extreme frustration when he felt that he was not performing well. Most recently he froze at the class handwriting competition.

He had practised for it, although his efforts seemed to have deteriorated nearer the competition instead of improving. He was so distressed he could not carry on with the competition. The reason for this is, we thought, he knew he was not the best at handwriting in class. Clearly he was not going to win, and he did not like that.

We could not fathom why, when we do not push him to be perfect, he has set himself such high standards. My husband thinks that this is from his Chinese genes, the need to keep 'face'.

So it was worrying for us. He has all this talent, was he going to waste it?

Knowing now that this might be a spiritual battle ... well, we are now better armed.

Son has been singing "Non nobis Domine" in preparation for the School Speech Day next week. Searching through the Internet I found this:

Not unto us, O Lord,
The praise or glory be
Of any deed or word.

For in Thy Judgement lies
To crown or bring to nought
All knowledge or device
That man has reached or wrought.
And we confess our blame,
How all too high we hold
That noise which men call fame,
That dross which men call Gold.
For these we undergo
Our hot and godless days
But in our hearts we know
Not unto us the Praise.

O power by whom we live,
Creator Judge and friend
Upholdingly forgive
Nor fail us at the end:
But grant us well to see
In all our piteous ways
Non nobis Domine

To God be the glory indeed in all that we do.

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