All these post have something in common: a heart. My friend Justin needed one. After a dangerously long wait, he got one. And last week my older daughter and I drove to Longwood to hear him play the organ and lead the audience in the traditional Christmas carol singalong.
Heart disease takes a toll. Justin still walks with a cane due to residual balance issues. He created his own personal physical therapy to overcome nerve damage in his hand. When he swivels around on the organ bench to address the audience, or throws his legs over to hop down to take a bow, it may not have quite the fluidity that it used to. He told me he used to launch himself into the air and land with a flourish. He still wants to do that but isn't quite sure he can guarantee a perfect landing.
But heart disease has done nothing to mar the music-maker that is Justin to his very core. His playing is superb. His rapport with the audience is warm and lively. He treats the instrument like a dear old friend, and it is.
If you have a chance to make it to Longwood this season, perhaps you'll take a half hour to go see him*. If you are looking for a Christmas miracle, this is it: a brilliantly talented musician who got his life back and is returning to the work he loves best.
*These are the sing-along dates and times when Justin will be playing: