I grew up in a little house my dad built that was next door to a church. It wasn’t our church—we went to the larger United Church across the street. I crossed the street every Thursday evening for choir practice and gathered with other members of the children’s and adult choir in the basement on Sunday mornings, clad in our gowns, lining up to prepare to enter the sanctuary.
The church next door to us was a smaller building, not much larger than a house. Once a week after school I went there for piano lessons with Mrs. Knight. (I’m sorry, Mrs. Knight. They didn’t take.) and in the summertime I’d climb the fence and pick hollyhocks from the back yard. But what I remember most about that church next door was the music.
My bedroom was on the side of our house next to the church and on Sunday summer nights when my window was wide open, the sound of hymns played on the piano next door wafted into my room along with the evening breeze.
Last evening, I scrolled randomly through my social media for just a few minutes to catch up before reaching for my book. And I stumbled upon something so beautiful —a local pastor taking time in the middle of the day in an empty sanctuary to worship in song at a piano. I listened and let the music wash over me. It was the perfect way to wind up another tumultuous day.
And now, this morning, as I sit in the sanctuary of my den where I meet with God every morning, I remember that gift she offered and return to it. With eyes closed and hands lifted I worship as her simple, pure, and oh-so-beautiful offering fills the room. Such peace. Such love.
I marvel at how sweet it is that those with gifts such as this share them with the rest of us. And while I might have, one day long ago, wished for the ability to conjure music from the keys of the old piano in our basement, the truth was I crept up the stairs and adjusted the timer to shave minutes off my mandated half hour practice time. And yet piano music, and a voice such as this one, feeds me deep and well.
It’s a beautiful reminder of how we need one another.
Now, the medley coming from my iPad switches to a song so familiar. Holy, Holy, Holy. It’s the song the adult choir sang every Sunday as they walked into the sanctuary in formation after we in the children’s choir were settled in our places at the front.
I didn’t understand all that the words meant back then but they reached something deep in me nonetheless. Neither did I fully appreciate the piano played hymns that serenaded me to sleep on Sunday nights but God was in that music as sure as is happening here this morning.
Lately, I’ve been pondering the question of where God was when I was a child and now I see a piece of the answer. Or, I hear it, even as I sense the timelessness of it.
I tap my screen and listen again.
Don’t be afraid. My love is stronger than your fear.
And . . .
Holy, holy, holy.
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Here is a link to this simple musical offering. Maybe you need to receive the gift as much as I do.