Little Fugue in G Minor by Bach is softly echoing through my living room.
I love this song. Especially when it’s played by my kid.
Gentle, lilting, then intense, the notes tumble over each other like a waterfall, and I am carried away. It is such an emotionally charged piece, and of course, I get choked up watching her play, imagining her in the very distant future, dressed in a floor length gown, performing Rachmaninoff on a stage.
She’s just a little kid and she halts on some of the notes. Determination is written on her face, and at the difficult passages, her small fingers pick out the notes timidly and delicately. She looks over at me.
“Hey Mom,” she sighs and stops playing. “Can I play a kid one now? I like Chopsticks better.”
The truth is, the Bach I so enjoy comes from my kid playing a magic piano app on someone’s Ipad.
It’s not the real thing, it’s just an app. Pathetic, right? But I’ll take whatever music I can get.
I did buy an old piano, almost twenty years ago.
I bought it used, and now it is unused.
It has been moved three times. In those twenty years, I have paid for three kids’ piano lessons. I idealized the thought of piano playing kids like our former Perfect Neighbor Kids, who learned from their grandmother and could play anything, sensitively and beautifully. Collectively, my kids know exactly one song on the real piano. Just one, rollicking, pounding jazzy creation of their dad, who likes to tinker in music.
No one can really play the piano.
The last time I had our real piano tuned, about twelve years ago, the guy was quite taken aback.
“You say some of the notes won’t play,” he began.
“Yeah, it’s a pretty old instrument.”
“That’s not the problem.” He sternly looked at me. “Do you know what I found in this piano?”
Did I want to know? Because that sounded like a loaded question to me. What was it? Was there money? A treasure map to a lost civilization? Or something hideous? I looked at him nervously. Was it terrible?
He made a flourish with his hand, displaying the hidden contents of our piano. Stickers. A postage stamp. More stickers. Twelve small paper dolls. A family photo. And 89 cents in coins.
“How would you expect this piano to function properly when it is being used as a safe deposit box by your children?” He humphed.
That was the last time I had it tuned.
And that is why the only piano music around here comes from an app.
Someone Else’s Kid was visiting our house, and sat down at our neglected, old treasure receptacle of a piano. The notes reached my ears while I was making supper in the kitchen. I stopped everything to listen. It enchanted me. I crept to the edge of the wall, and peered around the corner so as not to disturb whoever was playing. Someone Else’s Kid continued, intense and smiling. Eagerly, his fingers fluid like water, he poured out song after song…Joplin, Bach, Mozart, Schumann, and more. I didn’t know my piano could sound like that! He had a look on his face that was priceless. I think it was love. He loved playing the piano. Every note was joy. I leaned against the kitchen wall and a tear rolled down my cheek. It was beautiful, because he loved it.
After a while, Someone Else’s Kid got up, and ambled away to another adventure with the boys.
But his music stayed with me.
It certainly was not my piano that was worthy or beautiful.
It was the child’s Love, shining through the piano. Through that wretched piano.
Love changed it, and enabled it to make beautiful music.
Isn’t that what God does for us?
We may be old and broken, beat up by the world. People may think we are useless. We collect junk on the outside and we often come with hidden baggage on the inside.
But the truth is, when God loves us, our real worth shows. Love makes us be beautiful.
And God always loves us.