On Seeing

What gifts are hidden within this home?

Gaspar is a tall, handsome young man who grew up amongst a large family in a crowded rental home in a tough neighborhood near Brownsville.

In middle school, he decided that he really, really wanted to play the clarinet, and so he joined the band class.

On the first day of class, the teacher apologized, telling him that there weren’t enough instruments to go around and that he, being amongst the youngest students, would have to come back next year.

The gleam in Gaspar’s eye, as well as his disappointment, allowed the teacher a creative moment. He told Gaspar, “Look, I don’t have an instrument you can play, but you can mark out time for us by tapping on your desk.”

Gaspar eventually got to borrow a clarinet from the school.

He went on to receive a full scholarship to the university, and, later, won the offer of a scholarship to the Julliard School of Music.

Gaspar turned down the Julliard offer, opting instead to teach high school band.

“Just returning a favor,” was his take on a courageously unselfish career move.

Tradition considers Gaspar (“Caspar”, in English) to be the name of one of the three wise men who, searching the skies for a sign of Divine Intention, came upon the infant Jesus. Gaspar, the wise man, saw something in this child born into a crowded stable. In an unselfish gesture, Gaspar gave the newborn a gift of gold.

Tradition does not tell us what the poor family did with this gold. Perhaps they paid for a couple of nights in a local hotel. Perhaps they put the money away against troubled times.

I quietly hope that they invested in clarinets.


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