Timing. Just the word makes me stress. I sat down at my beautiful black lacquer-finished concert Baldwin piano tonight and pulled out familiar sheet music. Too many ideas and musts crowded my brain, which nearly always drives me to those keys. There’s a simple beauty found in the act of playing this piano.
I’ve never sat before it without thinking of the sacrifices made to provide it to me. My family and the Rockefellers had as much in common as a spool of thread to a Vera Wang gown. Yet I walked to the top of our house’s steps the morning of my sixteenth birthday and beheld the gorgeous sight of my dream made reality: a concert piano. The gold letters declaring it a “Baldwin” may as well have read ”Perfection”.
So, with the stress of the tasks I face these days pressing in, I went to the keys. I played through familiar favorites, waiting for the ease to flow back into my fingers. When I’m away from the piano too long, my hands forget how to translate feeling through notes. It takes a few songs before I feel that connection made and playing becomes more about being, less about doing.
I pulled out “Canon in D” by Johann Pachelbel – if you don’t recognize the name, you would the tune since many a bridesmaid has floated down the aisle to its steady, building presence. In the middle of the piece lies a minefield, a gathering of notes that require intricate fingerwork. Hours of practice have instilled that fingerwork so solidly that I rarely look at the music anymore, placing it before me only as a safety net.
But tonight, my mind rushed ahead. My brain skipped to the next note and then the next before the required one sounded. It was as if my mind kept saying, “Come on, come on, we have to hurry.” All through the minefield, my fingers fumbled along, trying to run ahead with my thoughts. With a sigh, I finally stopped. This wasn’t working. The only thing reflecting back to me through the piano’s shiny surface was my harried expression.
Which is when I realized—timing. “Canon in D” is one of the more beautiful pieces of music I know. Yet my inability to follow its timing ruined what my hands produced.
Being a Christian is like that, too. Someone said to me earlier today that she wished she’d made different decisions early in life so that she could have avoided some major heartache and difficulties later. I told her I didn’t aspire to a trouble-free life. Trouble brings us closer to God and prepares us for the work He has for our hands. It’s as welcome as the easy times.
Which is why I sit here now thinking about timing and the tough stuff of life. Until I brought my mind in submission to the timing of the piece, I could only produce cacophony. Likewise, as a child of God, until I put my will under the submission of His plan and timing, I can only stumble along, fumbling the keys, missing out on the thrill of the intended melody.