The sun filters in softly through morning's stretch of light. It is a contrast to the night where my mind has wandered through unfinished words and thoughts but this morning, there are no words - just a quiet settling. Light makes its way in almost a straight line, through a window, across piano keys toward a small vase of a single bud.
Heart and Soul (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmsKqfxTwcE) - (first 37 seconds) plays across my mind like keys on a piano board. It is not an accomplished sound but a distant memory of when I first learned the notes. I was eighteen or nineteen and this moment was a single yellow brick in a journey – or a running away; it was a soft hue to a brash sound.
The dad was borderline genius and a lot odd. Life had chiseled him down from war veteran, pilot, writer, musician, husband, dad into a solitary man with a dog. Five sons, one a little older than I, showed me how simple it was. I could play 45 seconds of either part of a piano duet but I really needed another person to paint the colors … then and now.
The stillness that calls in quiet pearls of dust settle serendipitously upon the old vintage wood floor where creaks and cracks hint of a song played before. In a brief moment, it passes into a lazy fragrance filled morning of past, present and future. It is a surrendered falling into the arms of grace.
A cardboard box with a label sent through the mail. It looked like any other normal junk pile but the contents were anything but ordinary. It was a world in the making – architect, builders, planners, a boss and workers. It was a hardwired blueprint to a lifestyle unchallenged and predictable. It just wasn’t for me.
It just wasn’t predictable to me. Plexiglas, sand, life and food, the contents of this box represented something more complicated than the piles of paper that cluttered my space. It was an interesting project toward a common goal. Without question, they did their work as a cog in a wheel of progress. Sand poured into a narrow channel of plastic, a few kernels of food and the dormant ants dropped in, they immediately began to accomplish the miraculous.
Many rooms and an intricate line of communication. It was a common busyness to build. I realized there was a whole universe I did not understand which subtlety bled into a larger world of faith both inside and outside the walls of a church. To an outsider, the liturgy sounds like piles of paper cluttering the space of an internal drive to build. Within the walls, insiders carry the busyness of the cross and even abhor the new sand being poured in, quickly channeling newcomers to the appropriate chambers. I stand perplexed.
While both challenged by watching these ants over time building rooms and chambers and in awe of the intricately woven complexity of a simple creature, my heart gravitates toward a larger question: do we, as a culture, matriculate similar patterns? Are we wheels on a cog grinding through the minutes of a clock as we build? Neatly formed judgements in safely preserved chambers ... until we have been touched softy by a downy white light.
Whether that light is found through the soft hue of keys played on a piano or a worship song or the tender hand of a friend's words, a stained glass window in a church or the majesty of a sun soaked sky, faith in a living God wrestles the predictability of people into crumbled papers of the unfathomable and unforgettable whisper of a name. God, through faith, calls us to a stretching of wineskins into a widening welcoming of all who hear Yahweh.
I have carried this note in my daily work calendar for a few months. "Since payment is cash, could you please provide some sort of receipt to verify the debt is paid?" And so, it is true in faith.
We are a culture that needs proof. Was the debt of our sin really paid for with the crucifixion of Jesus on a cross? I am as guilty as the outsider (and insider) of the church walls. I often go into the sanctuary alone. I walk to the church with my worship music on in hopes of meeting, through the holy spirit, a living God. I stop at the doors and turn the music off. I enter His gates with a touching of my forehead, my heart, my left shoulder and my right; I make the motions as if touching the cornerstones of a cross.
I sit in a pew and wait - for a word, a hymn, a prayer, a light, His presence, His word. I wait in anticipation for an unwinding of my soul. Faith is anything but predictable and ordered. It is a softening of my busied, chambered thoughts, judgments and facts into an unknown world. It is a world where He is the architect, builder, planner, a boss, a worker and most importantly, a father who, through the cross, uses me to reach others and others to reach me through the power of the Holy Spirit to spread the good news of the gospel.
There are many stones at the front of the church but only three have been shipped from the holy ground of Jerusalem and so it is those that I reach for, softly touching with my fingertips. In the Garden of Eden, God said to Adam and Eve, they could touch all the fruit except for one, knowing full well, they would reach. We need His grace.
And, so it is ... a flawed humanity washed by the touching of his light upon our souls.
A hundred plus year old piano, the keys are covered. A small golden hole is etched with a delicate script. I carefully lift the door. This piano has played the song of music through church, weddings, recitals, classes, lectures, speeches, funerals; it represents the stories of many who have gone before and most likely, will come after me.
I begin to play with Heart and Soul - one part of a duet as God whispers his grace through a yellow bricked pathway. I stand humbled.
The bargain is the price paid. The journey is accepting the unpredictable. The tune is a softening.
"Then those sheep will say, "Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And, when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you? Then the King will say, "I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me - you did it to me. Matthew 25:40 The Message.
It is a soft light stretching our wineskins into something new; it is a greater reflection of Jesus. As the light travels, we move not in a straight line, but in a side to side motion forward; His touching mercy slowly settles into the depths of our soul. The song (our story) becomes transformed into something we could never had fathomed; it is a soft watering of dew onto petals of pure white love because the debt has been paid.
Pictures are my own or purchased through Adobe Stock; the stories are my own.
A fellow point guard for the faith; a writer, deep thinker, music loving, jeep blazing ... follower of Jesus.