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Rustling of dove and pigeon wings

As we enter the holiday season we naturally turn our hearts to the nativity story.

A young virgin with child travels a road that leads to a manger. The little baby who left his home in glory came to reside in the hearts of dark and needy souls. His story has a direct impact on the following story.

“The Soloist” is a chronicled account of the life of a homeless musician who shows the redemptive power of music to a newspaper reporter who, in turn, writes his story.

“The Soloist” is a true story of Nathaniel Ayers, a homeless schizophrenic cello virtuoso. As long as his shopping basket, his home on wheels, is near him he is content to play his music.

Steve Lopez, a newspaper reporter with the Los Angeles Times, is desperate for the next story and unaware that his soul is empty. Riding his bike to work one night he hears Nathaniel Anthony Ayers playing his old violin with two strings. He stops and listens.

Two people meet along life’s road in the midst of a dark place in a dark world.

There are many roads leading away from this story. There is the road where the mistrusting homeless man travels and lives; the fall of a promising Julliard School of Music student playing Beethoven for the street people; the mentally ill who refuses treatment and who has severed all relationships from family, and the power of friendship and the arts. All these stories are in one story and are pulling on different heart strings.

The string that pulls on my heart is the road not so obvious and less traveled. Two very different classes of people both living in a dark place. The homeless man who lives on the dark dirty streets of Los Angeles with nothing but a shopping cart full of trash and his music, and the reporter who lives in a dark place in his heart. He needs a story for his daily column and a passion for something meaningful.

Buzz Bissinger, author of “Friday Night Lights” writes, “… no punches pulled in this portrait of Nathaniel Ayers, but God do you root and hope and pray for him? Many books claim to be about redemption and the affirmation of the human spirit, but they are false gospels. ‘The Soloist’ is singularly and unforgettably true in all respects.”

When Ayers plays his music he is taken away from the noise of the streets to another place where rustling wings of doves and pigeons appaud him. In Ayers estimation he is not homeless, he is home in his music. No wonder claims are made that Bach is the fifth evangelist.

Buzz Bissinger is right, it is a story of redemption. And yes, God is rooting and praying for the lost in this dark world. Doctor Luke of the gospels writes that God has provided a way and his name is Jesus. The angels rejoice over one lost soul when he comes home.

God has not forgotten, but, like the reporter, many are looking for redemption in the next good story. He tripped over the truth along the road of life in the most unlikely place, the dark streets of Los Angeles. Light comes to a dark place, namely his heart, when he surrenders and looks up. He, too, hears the rustle of wings applauding.

Reader’s Comments

Send your comments to

Dear Betty:

Regarding the hat boxes I really enjoyed what I just read.  Why don’t you paint and glue them.

S, Casey, Fernley, Nev.

Dear Betty:

Great article. I do hope you painted the hat boxes finally. But then that might not be what was needed either, but just a thought.

L Snelling, Tehachapi, Calif.

Dear Betty:

Did Al buy the Porsche?

CT, Pagosa Springs

Artist’s Quote

“What we know is a drop, what we don’t know is an ocean.” — Jon R. Calvin, writer.