I play the piano. I’m pretty good at it, too. Except, I don’t actually accompany people very well, I can’t sight read at all, and I probably practice several hours A YEAR because it’s not a priority for me. Which boils down to…I’m no longer a good pianist.
Still, I try to be helpful.
A few Sundays ago I visited a group of cheery Spanish-speaking women in an hour long class. The only women I actually knew were the leaders of the group; they are amazing people and I love them completely. Just before the class began, one of them asked me to play a “closing hymn” at the end of the lesson. I’m pretty familiar with the music and I thought I could muddle through it all right. I glanced at the title , written in Spanish, of course, and I assumed WRONGLY which song I would be playing. So when the time came to play the piano, I sat on the bench with a different song in my head. I plunked away at the keys in front of me, but to everyone’s growing dismay, the resulting rhythm was completely off. The sweet women unitedly sang something I was not actually playing. It ended up in an embarrassed but joyful noise. I think everybody was relieved when the hymn was over; especially me. Everyone prepared to leave, and their smiles were kindly enough. But I felt foolish.
One woman didn’t walk away. She mistakenly thought I spoke Spanish, and approached me initiating a happy conversation. I smiled and nodded (that’s called pretending), still reeling from the fact that I’d just botched up what should’ve been a worshipful song. To my surprise, the woman guided me back to the piano bench. Then she started to hum, waving her hand in to the rhythm. I got the message; she wanted me to play. With some trepidation, I went back to the Mystery Song. This time I managed to match the melody with the tune she was humming. Once she trusted I was capable of hitting the right notes, she began to sing the words. Just her and I, doing a little performance in the corner, while the leaders gathered their belongings and prepared to exit the room.
I was surprised when the woman indicated I wasn’t supposed to stop at the first verse. Oh no! We weren’t going to be done until we were finished. It was a happy, lilting melody, and she flitted her hand back and forth the whole time, keeping the beat. I had no idea what the lyrics were about, nor any idea why she cared to help me at the keyboard, now that the meeting was over. It was a tender moment, and it sort of melted my heart. Once all three verses were completed, she gave me a little hug and kissed me on the cheek. How I wish I knew more Spanish!
Then, she left. The leaders smiled at me, having witnessed our little performance. I asked them about the kind lady who cared so much about making the music right and re-establishing my confidence. They told me they didn’t know her–that she was a visitor from Mexico. So I guess I’ll never see her again.
While this rather strange incident was still fresh on my mind, I came across this little quote by C. Joybell C.–“It’s the hard things that break; soft things don’t break. It’s an epiphany I had today and I wonder why it took me so very, very long to see it! You can waste so many years of your life trying to become something hard in order not to break; but it’s the soft things that can’t break! The hard things are the ones that shatter into a million pieces!”
Somehow, failure and vulnerability and triumph go hand-in-hand.