For 22 consecutive days in the spring of 1993, Sarajevo Opera cellist Vedran Smailovic dressed in his tuxedo at midday. Carrying his black cello case and a straight-backed chair, he made the perilous journey from his apartment to a downtown street. It was there that 22 of his closest friends had died when a Serbian artillery shell landed in their midst. The Bosnian War had filled local soccer fields with hastily dug gravesites. Most markers bore the death dates, 1992 or 1993.
Unable to stop the madness that had ripped apart the former
On one of those days, at the end of his lonely concert, he opened his eyes and saw the American singer and peace activist Joan Baez standing reverently at his side. They embraced, brother and sister united in a seemingly futile cause. As Smailovic packed his instrument and prepared to leave, Baez hesitated, then sat in his empty chair. Closing her eyes, she sang a heartfelt “Amazing Grace,” whose lyrics echoed Albinoni’s funereal mood. As her crystalline voice pierced the bystanders’ hearts, she blotted her tears with her sleeve.
My daily challenge is to do something to make a positive difference in the world, even if it seems insignificant amid the deadening weight of the day’s headline stories.