We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.—ROMANS 12:6 (NIV)
Gene was the quietest participant I’d ever encountered as a volunteer at OASIS, a respite care program for people
with early-to-moderate dementia. We knew Gene had been an athlete and an Army veteran, that he’d traveled the world, loved to hunt, fish and work on old cars. Volunteers and participants alike tried to engage him, but nothing elicited a spark.
Then one day, our director brought in homemade instruments for a hootenanny. Pots and pans with spoons
to bang, a tambourine, a homemade drum. The participants eagerly selected their instruments, but Gene didn’t make a move. Finally, I held up the last instrument. “Anybody want the harmonica?” Amazingly, Gene raised his hand.
With the first tune, “When the Saints Go Marching In,” cacophony reigned. But in the midst of the noise, we noticed Gene not only knew HOW to play the harmonica, but was making beautiful music with it! We listened in awe. After several more songs, we moved on to lunch. But a change had come over Gene. He smiled and talked to us. He had found his niche.
When Gene’s wife came to pick him up, we told her how we’d enjoyed Gene’s harmonica playing, but she looked blank. “I’ve been married to him 53 years,” she said. “I never knew he played the harmonica!”