There’s a little piano that holds court in our living room. Nestled into a corner just to the left of the fireplace, this small upright garners quite a bit of attention. Don’t let its ordinariness fool you…this piano is a bona fide magnet! What is lacks in presence, it more than makes up for in amazement…and I see its wonder every time someone new comes into our home!
The piano arrived last summer. I was thrilled! I took lessons in elementary school and thanks to a battery-operated keyboard (that I’ve toted around for 25 years), I’ve managed to play a little ever since. I’d always wanted a piano in the house, but given our somewhat nomadic-clergy-family lifestyle, we haven’t had the luxury of having our own. So when the opportunity to have one placed in the parsonage arose, I jumped on it!
My kids were very excited. Nevermind that we only had one piece of sheet music and a hymnal to play. Nevermind that it was missing its front wheels. And nevermind that it was out of tune (I referred to its sound as slightly twangy). We had a piano! Slowly we acquired some beginner’s pianos books for the kiddos and I downloaded some of my favorite songs from the internet. We adorned the piano with a photo of the children, a lamp to help with the lighting and a few other homey touches. This piano was the perfect fit for our little family…and then IT started.
Whenever someone would step into our living room they would comment, “When did you get a piano?” Invariably it would start a conversation about music and for those who play (or played) an instrument it would lead to a moment of reminiscing. Those who stayed longer than a few minutes would eventually make their way over to the piano. It’s funny to me how much restraint adults have…they noticed it, talked about it, moved toward it, but never touched it. But when children visit the house (as they’re apt to do thanks to the social nature of my kids), they can’t help but play it. And who wouldn’t? I mean, I purposefully leave the keylid open. Always.
At first my little girl would try to keep the keylid closed when the piano wasn’t in use. She reasoned that it was something like keeping the refrigerator door closed. I love that girl! I guess she wanted to keep the keys “fresh.” I tried to explain to her that a piano should be inviting. My personal philosophy is that once the piano keys are out of sight the whole piano becomes an unused piece of furniture. As I type this I know it sounds a little strange, but it’s exactly how I feel. A piano is meant to be played! In my head a closed keyboard means “don’t touch, stay back.” Thus, our piano is always open.
Recently we’ve had some kiddos over who didn’t just touch the piano, but actually sat down at the bench and stayed awhile. Sure, they hardly knew what they’re doing, but they played nonetheless. I love to see their little fingers jump around and how they proudly believe that tapping out a morse code style version of Mary Had a Little Lamb somehow makes them the next Mozart. A few of the boys have ventured to play two keys at the same time! Others run their hands across the whole length of the keyboard and some sit and test their fingering skills as they cup their hands and play one note at a time. It may not sound like much (and sometimes it doesn’t sound like that much) and yet it still seems beautiful.
For myself personally, time spent at the piano is both refreshing and energizing. I love testing my own abilities and playing music that demonstrates the God-given gifts and talents of a songwriter. I lose myself in the melodies and tune everything else out. Musicians and non-musicians alike know that music can be transformative. I give my heart and my soul over to the sound…and there’s nothing quite like it. The piano is both powerful and soft…conveying hundreds of emotions with a voice all its own. For those who play, you know how easy it is to lose track of time. And it never fails, every time I play I discover something new. I look forward to experiencing that joyful feeling again and again.
In some ways that little piano reminds me of our relationship with God. Yes, I said it. God is like an open piano. Patiently and lovingly waiting for us to discover Him. Always welcoming, our great and wonderful God calls us to come over. He doesn’t demand our attention, and yet we can’t help but notice His greatness. He doesn’t mind when we ask questions. He doesn’t mind when we approach hesitantly. He doesn’t mind if we don’t have it all figured out and need to sheepishly peck at the keys to find our way in this world. He uniquely meets our needs and knows our inner thoughts note for note. It seems the more time we spend developing a relationship with our Creator, the more enriched and blessed our lives become. As with a song, time spent with God can be transformative. Our Lord offers us something new every time we enter His presence. Like an open piano, we– as His creation–are naturally drawn to Him.
Maybe I’m giving our little piano too much credit. Maybe. But I know this, we can’t give God enough credit.
I hope that anyone who visits my home knows that they are welcome to succumb to the great magnet that is our little piano. I pray that anyone who hasn’t discovered God’s never-ending love and goodness moves closer toward a relationship with our Maker. As far as I’m concerned, both opportunities are always open.
Prayer is when you talk to God. Meditation is when you’re listening. Playing the piano allows you to do both at the same time. –Kelsey Grammer