Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Brief Encounter with Joy

Just when you least expect it, truly lovely things can happen. And in a day which held no more than ordinary promise, two things happened to me. I was working for a day at Exeter University and the first loveliness came at morning break. I went outside to get a bit of fresh air and was astonished at the warmth. The sun was shining strongly, and the skies were almost clear. In this week of freezing temperatures and snow, I sat on a bench and wondered just how warm it could get.

That would have been quite enough loveliness for one day, wouldn't it? But then the lunch break held in store something almost magical.

By this time, the weather had reverted to type: cold, overcast, drizzly. I happened to be passing the chapel when I heard someone playing Chopin rather beautifully on the piano. The sound was arresting. I went inside. The only person in the chapel was the young man who was playing and I sat on one end of the wooden pews and just drank it in. The playing was not faultless but the feeling and the depth of his interpretation was quite simply, well, beautiful. It was a privilege to be there.

After a while the young man glanced at his watch and saw that lunchtime was almost done. He got up and gathered his things to leave. It was then I told him how lovely I thought his playing was. He smiled and thanked me and we went our separate ways.

Turned out he was doing a degree in business studies. No surprise or inconsistency to anyone who works with students.

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