A friend and I went to a choral concert yesterday at a nearby church. No sooner had the Brahms Credo started than three kids in the row behind us began to squabble. I turned to see what the fuss was, and my friend outright glared. The mother hushed the children (or tried to), but it was several minutes before they stopped arguing. I felt bad for her.
Fifteen minutes later there was a break between pieces. I leaned over to my friend and whispered, “I’m not sure why they didn’t just put an adult between the kids.” My friend glanced behind her and saw that the youngest child, who had been the whiner, was taking a nap.
A voice behind us said sharply and loudly, “Turn around!”
Startled, my friend looked at the older gentleman who had said this. My friend said quietly and gently, “I’m sorry. The noise was distracting!”
“Turning around is distracting, too!” he snapped, “It’s annoying. You’re annoying! I paid for these seats!”
Shocked, I turned to see who this angry person was. He glared and snarled, “You’re annoying, too!”
Astonished at his attack I replied, “Yes, we paid for seats, too. We paid to listen.”
“Turn around!” he commanded, as if I were five years old. And since the next piece was about to begin, and it was clear this was an extremely angry person, my friend and I turned to listen to the Brahms Gloria.
The music was hard to hear through the adrenaline rush in my body. I noticed my friend (who tends to be feisty, but had thus far stayed polite) reach into her purse for a pen and piece of paper. Fearing she was going to slip the man a pointed note I took a pen from my own bag and wrote on my program the only thing I could think of, “Pray for him.”
I showed it to her. She nodded.
My heart was still pounding so much I couldn’t concentrate on the music. I directed my thoughts instead to understanding the situation. I guessed the older man was the grandfather of the children. I guessed that his anger arose from embarrassment. Perhaps he’d overheard my comment, and perhaps it stung. I could be grateful his fury had been directed at us rather than at the little ones.
The chorus was up to the Laudamus te, the “We praise you” part of the Gloria. I listened and prayed along, taking the words into my heart and offering them up again on the angry man’s behalf. May he praise You, may he glorify You, may he give thanks for Your great glory.
As my friend and I gathered our things to go, a voice in the row behind me said, with genuine pride, “Michael, you did a really good job. A fine job of listening quietly.” I didn’t look, but it was clearly the man talking to his grandson. He was no longer angry. I smiled. Yes, to God give thanks.