Daily wisdom nuggets: The wooden show of Paganini

When Paganini, the great Italian violinist, lay ill in Paris in the winter of 1832, among his few diversions were the daily visits of Nicette, the peasant girl who came daily to cook and clean and keep his room in order. She was young and pretty and always cheerful.

When, one day, she came in silently and went glumly about her work with downcast eyes, Paganini knew something was wrong. He saw that she had been crying. "My child," he asked, "what is it that ails you today?"

At this, Nicette burst into fresh tears. Between sobs, she related that she had planned to be married shortly. But her young man's number had been drawn in the military lottery; he was to be conscripted, there would be a war, she was sure that he would be shot and killed, she would never see him again, and so on.

"Why not buy a substitute?" suggested Paganini. "For a 1,500 Francs!" gasped Nicette. "Where could I find so much money?" Paganini said nothing further, but in his neat script, he made an entry in his notebook: "Think what can be done for poor Nicette."

A few days later, a box arrived, addressed to Paganini. When he unpacked it, a large wooden shoe came to light. "Can this be a present from an admirer," he gravely asked Nicette. She said she didn't know. He took it to his room and worked there for three days with the door closed. When he came out, he held under his arm the wooden shoe, transformed into a violin.

A few days later, an advertisement appeared for a New Year's Eve concert at which the great Paganini promised to play "Five pieces on the violin, five on a wooden shoe." On New Year's Eve, the concert hall was crowded, as always, when Paganini played. After he had performed on his violin with his accustomed brilliance, he took up the shoe. On its four strings, he played an original fantasia, which depicted love's young dream, the call to arms, a battle, grief, love and reunion.

It was surprisingly expressive and was received with wild applause. When the audience had finally gone and only Nicette remained sobbing in her corner, deeply affected by the music, Paganini dried her tears and laid in her lap the two thousand francs earned by the concert. He also gave her the wooden shoe-violin as a souvenir. She later sold it to a collector, bought a military substitute with the francs, and set up housekeeping in style on the remainder of her capital. -Helen L. Kaufmann, The Little Book of Music Anecdotes

There is this saying, by an anonymous author, that "Kindness, like a boomerang, always returns." That's a rather comforting, thought, isn't it? When we perform acts of kindness to others, kindness will find us - and pay us back. But that isn't even supposed to be our target - that we get back from what we've given. In fact, the word of God tells us in Luke 6:27, "But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you." We are charged to love and be kind to all - even those who mean us ill! That's just how far we ought to go in being kind!

Remember the words of Luke 14:12-14? The message there is pretty much the same. There, it is written: "'When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,'" he said, 'don't invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbours. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.'"

God is so full of undying love for us - so kind, in fact, that He pardons our many faults (when we beg His forgiveness and genuinely resolve not to go back to the vomitus of our sins) and blesses us in myriad ways that we, sinful as we are, do not deserve. Why, then, do we shy away from the many calls we receive, daily, to be kind - to be human to one another?

Kindness is the most beautiful garment you could ever wear. Resolve, today, not to act in any way other than that which reflects God's unerring love and His unyielding kindness. Will you take up the challenge, today and always, to love and be kind to all men?

"You cannot live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you" - John Wooden

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.