Beautiful moment

by Rod Smith

I had a beautiful moment in rural Poland.

The boys and I were at an annual “art” conference, a gathering of 5 or 6 thousand people. Many of the people attended year in and year out. They camped in tent villages on open lands near a long-abandoned monastery.  

My only responsibility was to teach a late afternoon class and so I found the time to be most relaxing. I especially enjoyed breakfast at a little outdoor restaurant near the monastery gates. Since everyone was attending the conference it was easy to strike up a conversation. The difficulty was finding someone who could speak English. 

One day I met a young man who told me he’d been attending for years. 

“Do you have one outstanding beautiful memory from all your visits?” I asked.

He thought for a few minutes. 

“One night,” his English, stilted but perfect, in the manner of one who had studied the language without speaking it. 

“I came to my tent very late. Middle of the night. I had been practicing my violin. I was being very quiet. I banged my strings by accident and woke up people. From inside a tent someone called out, asked me to play my violin.

“People from other tents joined in. I couldn’t see anyone. I could only hear them asking me to play.

“I played. All around people began to sing. In English,” he chuckled. 

“It was very beautiful. They sang all the verses. We finished. They all clapped and cheered. I went into my tent to sleep.” 

“Wait, wait,” I said, “What did you play? What did the people sing?”

“Ah,” he said, “Elvis, of course, ‘Love me tender, love me true’.” 

Tent city — in the early morning:

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