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Melodies of the Heart

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Tonight, I sat in the corner of a dimly lit room at a baby grand piano that is somewhat out of tune. It’s quiet, though there are people around. As I sat at the keys, I noted the curious facial expressions of people who were a little rough around the edges and having a tough day. People who I have heard complaining all day and fighting over who knows what. Angry, sad, hurting people.

Truth be told, I’ve been a little rough around the edges myself and been facing difficult times as I process the passing of my grandfather and another layer of grief with my family. There have been times when it is all-consuming and there have been times when I feel that I have nothing to contribute to the world beyond carbon dioxide at this very moment.

I am not sure what inspired me to play this evening. I fiddled around for few minutes, totally out of practice and cringing with every mistaken note. I soon gave up playing the great classical pieces in front of me for fear that Beethoven or Chopin would roll in their graves.

Instead, I just played…. from my heart. Not sure where this song came from, but it came and I couldn’t stop it. Emotion poured into my fingers on the piano – notes of sadness and sorrow, interspersed with melodies of hope and joy.

And soon the room filled. People smiled. People cried. My little ditty on the piano met people who I do not know very well at a deep level. They asked for more and bragged about being able to have front row seats at an unexpected concert.

I was asked whose song it was that I played – I sheepishly told them it was my own.

A few broken chords on an out-of-tune piano and a melody that shared my heart more than words could at this very moment. A melody of a grace-filled pain and beauty in the midst of difficult times. For a moment, I lost myself playing the piano – and for a moment, others were gathered into the song.

After they left, I was reminded of a book I read in second year university by Viktor Frankl (Man’s Search for Meaning). Frankl was a Jewish psychiatrist who was in the concentration camps. He was stripped of everything – even his hair of his head was shaved. But one thing that could not be taken from him was who he was – and his care for others. He began to use his gifts of listening and helping people in the context of the horrible concentration camps. And as he did, he found meaning in his own suffering – through his suffering, he was in a position to help those around him. It doesn’t take away the pain, but it brings meaning into it.

As I played the piano, I was reminded of how even in my difficult days, I do have gifts to offer. Tonight, my little melody brought a smile to a few people who had not smiled much today. My little expression of emotion uplifted others and encouraged them to continue to seek beauty. In fact, one gentleman referred to the piece giving him a reminder that he needs to keep on, keeping on.

There was something beautiful in that moment. I was able to share the gift of music and an expression from my heart and my own woundedness with those around me. The moment doesn’t take away the wounds I have been facing – but it did serve as a deep reminder that there is meaning in suffering and that God can use me in the midst of difficult and painful stuff to bless others.

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  1. Barbara Sanjivi
    November 5, 2013 at 12:12 am

    Thank you Elizabeth. Your comments touched my heart. I have had similar experiences playing the piano and others coming together to listen. So I know what you mean. It also touched your heart and helped you to see an unexpected way of your pain being a blessing to others in their pain. I know these times don’t just disappear but each touch of joy that comes your way helps you take another step. I am presently attending a music festival with my granddaughter. This brings joy to my heart and helps me through difficult times. God bless you. With love and hugs.

    Barb

  2. John Sullivan
    November 5, 2013 at 5:04 am

    Well Elizabeth, another piano playing friend like Barb, all three of us with Salvation Army roots. When my mother died, I went to the church and played for three hours none stop with the tears running down my face. I was by myself, so my offering was not a gift to others, just to myself, but I was able to leave the bench and face the world again. To play the piano for me is a form of prayer, it quickly ushers me into the presence of God. Continue to use your gift for God’s glory and for your own edification as well as for the enjoyment of others.

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