Anne Lastman – A Reflection

The Touch of the Master’s Hand

Author:  Unknown.

T’was battered and scarred, and the auctioneer

Thought it scarcely worth the while.

To waste his time on the old violin,

But he held it up with a smile.

“What am I bid, good people,” he cried,

“Who’ll start the bidding for me?

One dollar? …Now do I hear two?

To dollars…now who makes it three?”

Three dollars once…three dollars twice,

Going for three….”  But no!

From the room far back a grey bearded man 

Came forward and picked up the bow. 

 Then wiping the dust from the old violin

 And tightening up the strings

He played a melody pure and sweet.

As sweet as the angels sing.

The music ceased, and the auctioneer. 

with a voice that was quiet and low

said, “What now am I bid for the old violin?”

as he held it aloft with its bow.

“One thousand?” said he. “Two thousand?

And now two thousand and who makes it three?

Three thousand once, three thousand twice….

And going and gone,” said he.

The people cheered, but some of them cried,

“We don’t quite understand…

What changed its worth?”  Swift came the reply,

“The touch of the Master’s hand.”

And many a man with life out of tune, 

All battered and torn with sin.

is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd.

Much like the old violin.

A mess of pottage, a glass of wine, 

A game, and he travels on, he’s going once, he is going twice, 

He is going and almost gone.

But the master comes and the foolish crowd.

Can never quite understand,

the worth of a soul, the change that was wrought. 

By the touch of the Master’s hand.

I have chosen to do a reflection on this poem because this is one of the poems that has remained with me for years.  I don’t remember or understand poetry well; however, this poem is ever before my mind because even after so many years it still moves me every time I think about or read it. It’s always ever new.  A new word evokes an emotion, a memory, even a time.

Perhaps in my own life I have been at times the old violin, and someone has always come along just at the right moment to enhance and help me recall my value.  It may have been a momentary encounter, or short-term encounter, but they have changed the course of my life. 

The words spoken to me over 30 years ago “Now you go and do for others what the Lord has done for you,” and so it was. I set out on a journey of helping hurting post abortive men and women. This idea of work had never entered my mind.  I didn’t know much about abortion. I knew it was done but women hurting. No. No thought. These words were spoken to me by a priest who had helped me through my own suppressed grief, and the work needed for the recalling and completion of the life story of two infants prematurely born into eternity.  

The words of the “grey bearded man” (priest) then led to a work of mercy worth not “one dollar, two dollars or even three dollars” but the mercy shown to me which led to the words “now who offers one thousand, two thousand, now three thousand?” From that time on I no longer saw my worth as one dollar, two dollars, three dollars, but the value He had accorded me. The Lord raised my value to an enormous amount. And he passed on his new value of me through the voice of a priest confessor who passed on forgiveness, love, and Mercy.   

I have heard it said that if God wishes to get a message to someone then He will even send someone from the other end of the world to deliver the message and then move on.  Indeed, this has happened to me, (the priest moved away to a great distance) and it changed my life.

In my work with post-abortive individuals, I often encounter human beings broken, torn, battered with their sin and the sin of society which approves demands and condones abortion, now seen almost as a badge of honour, and yet after the event the individual is left to suffer the consequences alone.  Those who encouraged the death procedure then move on to the next phase of their life, to continue their own life journey whilst the abortive woman is left to suffer, feel shame, guilt, worthless and with a life battered and scarred by that sin, and live within that pain alone. Her depression, wayward life. Disastrous choices are hers to carry alone. Her life completely out of tune is now ignored by the “worthless crowd” who have turned their face from her and her suffering. They sold her as someone cheap because her life and behavior and sin and guilt ensured that she would be sold cheap.  She has been “almost gone” the friends have no time for such a derelict friend. To them she is not worth even “one dollar, two dollars says another, three dollars” says another. Her value to them is nonexistent. 

However, there came a moment when she met the “master” (Mary Magdalen?) and he sat and talked with her, and spoke of her dignity, and her value as a child of God, and her beauty, and he spoke words of forgiveness that her sin can be forgiven.  Her infants, whom she had unknowingly rejected, were safe with the Master’s own mother.  And his words brought joy back into her heart.  

The old broken violin, given nurture, love, forgiveness, are like clean garments made especially for her and her alone and she shone.  And so, she went before those who had rejected her as someone unworthy but now after the encounter with the Master who helped her understand her worth as a child of God, she knew her worth. She stood before them and her true being was seen. Her soul changed because she had met the Master, and he didn’t walk away from her. He knew her worth even if she didn’t.

Her change came because of “the gentle touch of the Masters hand.”

Many times, the individual suffering from post-abortion grief has been suffering in silence for many years so much so that his/her life is out of tune.  This person, so depressed and so out of tune with life is slowly abandoned to “the thoughtless crowd” or in other words, other wounded souls, and together they begin the descent into a pain filled world.  It’s into this world of depression, drink, drugs, promiscuity that Jesus enters (through whatever means) and effects the rescue.  The foolish crowd, those who encouraged the decision and then walked away because they could not stand to watch the despair.  These now can’t quite understand how this young /older woman suffers over the wasted life (baby).  

It matters not to this foolish crowd that this battered life is worth more than imaginable.  It matters not to the foolish crowd that the suffering soul in their midst is someone worthy of the Master’s touch.  It matters not that His touch transformed this soul into a being of beauty.  It matters not that the soul touched by the master’s hand is a soul who has walked on Holy ground called suffering and because of this heard her Masters voice and his gentle touch. 

I encounter in my counselling room broken hearts, and minds, and for me it’s beautiful to see the transformation slowly take place.   Anna had given up on God because she was sure that He hated her because of her abortion.  Jesus went looking for her in the midst of her despair.  After many years (20 years) she stopped long enough for Him to touch her heart, and she shone and returned to life.  She is no longer the insecure, frightened, whimpering person for all to look at her in disgust, but an intelligent, serene lady with a smile and joy which pales the sun.  She, who had not been to Church in over twenty years returned to God and to the Sacraments and He rewarded her trust in Him with an image of her baby.  She was transformed.  The child that she thought lost forever now lived with Him and the child was beautiful and whole not broken as she had thought.  

All that it took was for her to hear the words.  Jesus loves you so much.  In your pain you mirror Him. By the touch of the Master’s hand suffering turns into holy ground. A ground where we take our shoes off and approach. (Ex 3:5).

The work of post abortion healing is a work of great mercy especially in our day.  It’s the most important work which can heal our world if only we let the Master play the most beautiful tune ever heard.

In Jewish sayings there is one which exemplifies this “Whosoever destroys one soul it is as though he had destroyed the entire world. And whosoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved the world.”