A really cool thing happened today when I was at work. There is a piano in one of the rooms near the Outreach office where I primarily work. I hadn’t had the chance to play the piano in a week or so because it has been so busy, so I thought I’d take a break and play for a few minutes.
In the piano area, there are a few computers that the public can use. Often these computers are occupied by people who are in between employment or people who are receiving some sort of economic assistance from the church. There is one woman who I’ve seen around the church who seems to be there every day. I hadn’t talked to her much, other than to get her name when I first met her.
I started playing the piano, and she was practically captivated as she was listening. It opened up a huge conversation about music, the different teachers both of us had during our lives, lots of laughter, and shared enjoyment of how wonderful it is to encounter master pianists who are so good it’s almost impossible to believe.
She was particularly fond of the song “River Flows in You” by Yiruma. She had me play it for her three times, and as I worked on the new piece I’m trying to learn she offered encouragement and suggestions. When I got frustrated and got up to walk away, she ordered me to sit back down and play it again because she could tell that “I lost my enjoyment of the song momentarily because I was frustrated, and I needed to get it back before I stopped.” So I sat back down and played the part I was working on through a couple more times and, lo and behold, I got the enjoyment back!
What I love is this: I didn’t think that, when I took the piano up again, I would experience anything more than the joy of playing for myself and friends, and the refuge from stress and emotion that playing an instrument can bring. Yet, today I was able to experience a relationship with someone with whom I had almost nothing in common with. I don’t know her story or where she lives but, from what I could glean from conversation, I know that she is severely impoverished, has significant debt from a small student loan that continued to grow and grow and grow when her life took a turn for the worst many years ago, and she travels an hour or so each way to get to Coral Ridge to find a refuge, a place to be cared for, a computer to play Solitaire on, and a piano she can play without anyone telling her to stop.
I love that we could talk about God and His goodness because of the music. I love that I had the chance to show her that she was important enough for me to sit and listen to, important enough to play for—again and again if she wanted.
That is the Gospel life being lived: two people with nothing in common but Jesus taking the time to really care about one another, to encourage one another, and to bless one another by the other’s presence. And while many people would probably draw back from her because of her appearance—old, wrinkled, and messy clothes, a smile that reveals only a few teeth that are still intact, a ruddy face from age and a hard life, and a slow gait and limp, perhaps from a previous injury—I got the chance to see a twinkle in her eye and, perhaps, demonstrate God’s love to her though she had nothing that the world would value to give me in return. But, I received a lot from her today. I hope that this is just the beginning.
Perhaps by the end of this summer we’ll be able to play River Flows in You together! =)