Sacred Stories | Bagpipes

“The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps.”
— Proverbs 16:9 NRSV

It was near Saint Patrick’s Day, when I met with a friend, whom I’ll call “Ian.” We shared stories of life and the paths we had traveled in our medical careers. We spoke about family heritage; Ian has Irish roots, and I was born in England. He mentioned that he played the bagpipes, which I love to hear, and that he would be performing in a Saint Patrick’s Day parade with his piping band.

I asked if he would stop by on his way to the parade and play the pipes for me. He agreed and came to my facility with his father and friend. Donned in their kilts, the three stood in the parking lot and played the pipes for all to enjoy. It was beautiful.

A man appeared and asked who was playing the pipes and if they would consider playing for his mother, a patient in our hospice. She had always wanted to hear someone play the bagpipes.

Ian and his fellow musicians agreed to play for the man’s mother, and we secured permission to do so. The trio proceeded upstairs to the hospice area and played “Amazing Grace.” The sound of the pipes echoed in the halls, and everyone was caught up in the moment, briefly forgetting their troubles. We shared tears of joy and sadness as the bagpipers granted the woman’s wish.

Ian and his colleagues stayed a while longer to chat with the patient and family. He mentioned shortly after that she seemed content. The woman died a couple of days later, and her son gained comfort from knowing he had granted her dying wish.

Ian later was invited to play the bagpipes at the woman’s funeral. What a nice ending to a heartwarming life experience. No money or possessions can ever replace the goodness that comes from our hearts.

Was it coincidence, or a blessing in disguise that Ian and his colleagues stopped by that day? God really does work in mysterious ways.

Shared from the Sacred Stories Archive

Questions for Reflection

Stop and reflect on the sounds that lift your spirit and why those particular sounds have that effect.

Think about how others experience your voice: Is it heartwarming, like the bagpipes?

About Sacred Stories

As CommonSpirit Health, we make the healing presence of God known in our world by improving the health of
the people we serve, especially those who are vulnerable, while we advance social justice for all.

Sacred Stories convey ways our mission is being lived out by the gifted people in our ministry. We invite you to
use these stories for inspiration, as a meeting reflection, or to encourage discussion with your team.