Sunday, August 17, 2008


When we say "talent," I think we usually mean a high level of performance in comparison with others.

A few years ago, my first Talent Show at a JAF Family Retreat brought me to another understanding of the word--the gifts and abilities that God has given. Period. Not in comparison with anyone else. Especially not in comparison with "normal." What is normal anyway . . . but that's another topic.

Tonight we heard jokes from a tall young man who labors to speak, with his STM (volunteer) as straight man.  We waited patiently until the words were formed and spoken and laughed uproariously when the punch line finally arrived.

We saw a pixie-like girl whose body is weak imitating the mouthy bravado of professional wrestlers as she arm-wrestled 2 STMs to their knees.

We saw a sometimes timid, sometimes determined teenager demonstrate a talent she learned just this week--making her new yoyo go down and up 2 or 3 times before it stayed down.

And we saw a strong young man who wanted just one thing for his birthday a few months ago--a violin. Every time I saw him at camp this week, he was carrying his violin case. At home he watches his Andrew Rieu DVD and plays along, up and down on the same string. Tonight, dressed in tie, dark dress shirt and trousers, with just the right tempo of lip pursing and showman smiling, just the right balance of arching the head back and leaning forward into the music, he entertained us on one string to Happy Birthday to You and We Wish You a Merry Christmas, his favorite tunes. An STM played with him, using all the strings. Her grand finale flourish was nothing compared to his.

Tonight the talent was true talent--the display of God-given ability.

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