Soft chords of a guitar floated out from somewhere around the corner and the next, as I followed my seventeen year-old friend, Maggie, from one short hall to another, turning here, there, around the bend to a few chairs along a wall facing a line of several closed doors.
A place where symphony begins…and I could almost feel it… soft and billowy around me. Like fresh-cleaned linen, breezing out from a garden line, sweet, on a zephyr of air.
Ah…there… down the hall to my left… was the source of fingertip melody. A young man, sitting cross-legged on the floor strumming, playing his guitar as if he were all alone, bestowing a gift for an unseen guest. Or maybe… just for himself.
I took the last seat with my book, preparing to wait as Maggie knelt to pull her music books and oboe from her bag…letting the soft notes sift peace over me… laying aside the concern of something unpleasant ahead for my afternoon. In this moment, I thought… just… Your…loveliness.
A door opened to the smiling chatter of her teacher to the student now leaving, praise for her work to the waiting mom, greeting for Maggie, a glance my way – then the heavy door, sharply closed again behind them.
A lengthy stillness from behind those doors made me wonder momentarily… Are these rooms a bit sound-proofed?
Yet… playful notes of piano keys, emanating from corridors somewhere off to the right, danced a lilt every now and then, across the chapter pages open in my lap… like instrumental voices piping here and there between paused silences. My old ever-love for putting images to the sound of an orchestra tuning up before a show, or dream-listening to my friend’s kids practicing piano while late day’s sunlight played leafy shadows on the wall in front of them…or even farther back, recalling the warm shine of polished wood floors in school rooms of time where I walked and sat and played beside music and class pageant rehearsals… washed over me anew.
A sort of drinking in the cozy warmth, the homeyness of being here, peeking in on this moment… The Mr. Holland’s Opus sort of familiar, yet long ago feel, of being part of something…grand…even among the ordinary… something that old brick school buildings always evoke in me.
Suddenly… the clear, dulcet tones of an oboe – Maggie’s! – bubbled up and spilled over into a momentary piece she was playing, like water over stones in a brook. An ephemeral, light-skipping tone, somehow reminding me of a hymn of praise that seemed to ripple Latin words across my mind and onto my lips… something like, mirabilis… (miracles?)… Yet, I knew she was breathing out exercises, more than any specific tune.
Pauses… The soft murmur of voices, her teacher gently instructing… Try this… oh, that was excellent, Maggie… And a smile I sensed in Maggie’s quiet, thank you… Then, more short bursts of notes burbling upon the air, like sudden effervescence poured into a clear glass, liquid bubbles that dip and rise from bottom to top. Just notes… no real melody… but light and airy and joyful… as, mmm… birdsong.
Memories of Maggie playing on stage in orchestra…sure and strong…tender and beautiful… wafted through my thoughts. And I realized, it all starts here… in small beginnings.
Hardly making a dent in the overall picture you are trying to paint… or just taking tiny baby steps across the strides of your dreams?
Wondering how this little part you are holding in life can ever make a difference, beautiful or inspiring…or otherwise?
Mmm… Me, too.
It seems too rare when we get to see our chair, our place in the orchestra that our one little life is essential to creating.
So much of the time, all we can hear are just notes we are making…sometimes squeaking, sometimes heart soaring…here and there.
One little bird piping.
Yet… even as we practice…take those steps…God brings us into the big picture. Shows us a glimpse of what might be when you are lifting your voice, I am breathing out my notes, another is drumming out a beat and yet another singing across strings.
It begins in the small.
In the repeated strokes, memorized tones, learning of our days.
In a word, a nod, a smile.
In a prayer lifted to God in praise, in hope, in joy or sorrow.
In Him, taking our hand and leading us through the music books, the notes of time… saying, Try this… a little more here, no take it this way...and, oh that’s it! Excellent! Teaching…guiding…letting us go…sending us out, free…
In the Maestro taking up his baton and leading you and me with… Now!
Ah… yes. Then, the music!
Bringing my young friend to her one hour lesson this day…as Maggie’s mom drove her younger sister, Cait with a C, across highways to another learning step of joy… reminded me of times when other adults had been there to help me get from place to place when it was impossible for Mom to do it for one reason or another. A broken down car, or another necessary commitment. My aunt, picking me up at Junior College… another close friend running me to painting class… a sometimes forgotten part of those whose “little steps” made a special difference in ordinary moments of my life…
Making me think in this small gift of time…
Thank you Lord for these… our little moments that sing!
© Pam Depoyan
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”
~ Zechariah 4:10 (NLT)
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