Sometimes the Piano Is Too Big

I am the jack of all trades and the master of none. Or something like that…I spend most of my week bouncing my attention between my three part-time jobs (one of which is pastoring a church “part-time”…yeah, I’m laughing too…), caring for my fabulous children, attempting to be a friend + partner, and practicing, teaching & writing music and words. I don’t pretend that I’m amazing at anything I do, but somehow, I make it all work the way that most of us do when we have seemingly impossible tasks laid before us.

Sitting next to one of my most thoughtful child piano students the other day, I found myself with my arm around his tiny, slumped shoulders as he explained almost tearfully that there were just too many notes and not enough fingers. Too many possibilities and not enough time to sort them out. The piano was too big and he was just too small. I just wanted to sit and boo-hoo with him for a minute; because as it would turn out, life had been making me feel that way now for a while. Instead I scooted next to him on the piano bench and said,

“Let’s play just the black keys.”

Thirty minutes later, we both stood up from the piano bench, probably not more improved technical players, but certainly more at peace with our musicianship, with our relationship to our instrument, and with ourselves. That’s how it is sometimes…I just need to give myself permission to mess around with what I know will work. Words–stories, poems, liturgy–help me do that very thing and sometimes bring me back to the center and sit with it for a while. Doing what I know will work. No profound thoughts and, GOD forbid, no preaching here. Just words that we can share as poems, prayers, and the occasional story that I hope will provoke back to center whoever may stumble into this place. It seems that all of us, in some way, are trying to find center – whether that’s a melody, love, sobriety or a GOD that animates all of those things.

So I’ll start here. ‘Cuz if just the black keys are good enough for St. Stevie Wonder, they’re good enough for me.

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