As a child, violinist Vijay Gupta was pushed hard—nearly to the breaking point—by his parents. But instead of being embittered by his experience of suffering, Gupta learned compassion and made the most of his exceptional musical talent. At age seven, he enrolled in the prestigious Julliard School of Music, and at age 11, he gave a solo performance with the Israeli Symphony Orchestra. At age 19, he joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Shortly thereafter, he met Nathaniel Ayers, also a violinist and Julliard graduate, who was living on the street due to mental illness. Gupta began giving Ayers violin lessons, and through those encounters he discovered the transformative effect music had on his schizophrenic student. In 2010, Gupta’s compassion led him to found a Street Symphony composed of Skid Row musicians. This symphony brings the healing gift of music to jails, transitional facilities and shelters. How do we respond to life’s hardships? Do we, like Vijay Gupta, let them teach us compassion for others?
by Delores Dufner, OSB