Day 27: Items Purchased, 0 Temptation Radar: 2 ( I visited Target, so I mean…what do you expect?)
I visited the cancer center today, as I do twice a month, on Thursdays. For an hour or so, I hide behind a beautiful ebony baby grand piano and play a few tunes for the patients as they await their appointments. It really touches my heart. I can’t help but think about the various personal stories walking in & out of the door each week; what those precious people must be dealing with, be it personal a battle with disease or standing bravely beside a loved one who may be fighting.
Believe it or not, I don’t sight-read music very well. To pick up a sheet of music and play it, without knowing the song is foreign to me. Yet, I’ve always had an ear for the keys, so I am able play. In times past, I’ve been ashamed of the lack in my technical ability. It’s the sole reason why, historically, I don’t play in musical groups or publicly. Anxiety grips ferociously when I begin to think about the fact that someone may make a song request, or the thought I’d be playing in a musical group but unable to switch keys on command. It is important to note that I rarely play anything upbeat. The songs that roll off of my fingers are usually slow-paced and flowing. The sustain pedal is always in operation. All of these things have, in my estimation, been a handicap.
So, I’m playing, just tinkering along. I’m about 30 minutes into my hour-long arrangement. My thoughts are drifting into a zone of total relaxation, when I’m pulled subtly back to consciousness by, what I would describe as, a sort of “premonition.” I don’t really know how to explain it other than to say a genuine sense of understanding saturated me. I was suddenly aware that there was a specific purpose to this music. I felt as though the song had a sort of restorative quality to it that would, in fact, bring wholeness. I don’t really understand how that could be possible, but the thought was heartwarming. I continued, feeling an overwhelming sense of contentment, when a small stature elderly lady walks over to the piano. She pauses there for a moment, as if she was organizing her words ever-so-carefully, and says,
” I would like to tell you that you have a real gift….and your way– the way you play– makes me feel so good. I love music. I can’t sing or play any instruments. But, I love music & this is so beautiful”
Her words were potent, they seeped deep into the core of my heart, like smooth aloe pouring out, healing all of the inadequacy I’d felt over the years in my musical ability. I proceeded into the usual apologetic explanation of how I don’t play “real” songs & this is all I know, while my fingers continued traveling the keys. Yet, this time, while trying to explain “my way”, it was revealed that it is a gift. She continued to listen a little while longer and then retreated. Ten minutes later she returned. Standing very close beside me, with her right hand rested upon the top of the piano, she just stood ever-so-silently, comfortably. I must admit to being a little nervous unsure of exactly what she would do or say next. After what seemed like several minutes, she whispered,
” You should really tape record your music. If I had music like this to listen to, I would listen for hours a day. These people here, they are very special and they need to feel good.”
At this point, I’m fighting tears but not because someone thought my music was record-worthy. I’m not interested in that. I was weepy because it was evident she had encountered peace and was looking for a way to capture it, to bottle it up and take it home with her. She recognized something different. She stood there a few moments more than went to her seat. The atmosphere was placid. I was aware that a greater presence had taken a seat. It was a visitation. I realized that it was His presence , tenderly drawing hearts, cleverly disguised as beautiful music. I began to understand that in the midst of all the anxiety, fear, hopelessness and pain experienced in the clinic each day, I have an opportunity to bring a little light….a glimpse of peace. Peace is the greatest gift we can behold. I know the Prince of it. He was there today; working through 10 little fingers and a keyboard, ministering life, as only He can do. As I made my exit, the volunteer coordinator commented, “You know, your music is so peaceful…..and not in a way that makes me sleepy or want to take a nap. It’s just so peaceful. It’s great!” I returned smile, “I’m so glad. After all, it’s all I know.”