If possession is nine tenths of the law, I own a piano. Truthfully, the Yamaha that sits in our dining room (and has for over ten years) belongs to my eldest son. It was willed to him by my step mother, who decided that rather than waiting for him to enjoy it after she was dead, she’d let us have it while we could all enjoy it. And we have. There probably isn’t a week that passes with out the beautiful sound of music filling our house.
The other day I read an interesting fact about pianos that changed the way I think about the beauty they create. I don’t know if you’ve ever wondered what a piano is made of, but if you have, it’s wood, felt, steel, and iron. Not much to ponder on there, except for what I read about the felt. See, felt is a tightly knit wool, and the particular wool used in pianos is said to be sheared on a cold day, as the sheep’s wool is tighter in the cold, lending you a tighter felt. The tighter the better, I understand. So your felt, basically, is a wool with tension.
For some reason, suddenly, all I could think about was the shearer. Some old man, dressed warmly, out at the crack of dawn, mist clouding his face as he exhaled, just to shear a sheep in the cold. Was he happy, that old man? As he watched the sunrise break over mountains and into a field of diamonds glittering like a thousand angels, did he think about the music? Did the sound of notes being exchanged in the dance of melody warm him from the inside out? Was it hope, the dream that someday, somehow, his unseen, unknown, sacrifice would make something beautiful?
Is that what this feels like? Writing, blogging. At times, it seems this cold place of solitude where our only hope is that someday our unseen, unknown, dances with words will make something worthwhile, something of beauty. Is it the gamble that it often feels? When we work in this place because, the tighter the better, is it that very tension that sometimes pulls us apart?
It’s interesting that the place in which I read about the piano, the memoir of Mary Cartledgehayes; Grace, brought together so many elements of what I’m facing. Weird, but not really, I know how my God works; bringing all things together to speak truth to me. She talks about leaving her first pastorate and the struggle with simplifying her life as she fought the feeling that, “The things I’d believed in, worked towards, and achieved seemed insignificant, the sacrifices a waste of time. I had been called into the ministry, given my heart to the church, did everything I could to conform to and respond to it’s demands, but it wasn’t enough; no matter how much I gave, it wasn’t enough; It couldn’t be enough because I wasn’t enough.”
Her transparency with a broken heart caught me. And then she spoke again about the piano and that made it call come clear.
A standard model [piano] has 230 strings, each of which carries a tension of between 150 and 300 pounds. The total string tension is thus approximately thirty tons.
Quick, how much is that? Yeah, that’s right, 60,000 pounds. Does it feel like that for you too?
In her book, The Seventh Dragon, piano tuner Anita T. Sullivan says this about the tension:
“If a piano were to relax, as we humans keep trying to do, it would be something else altogether. A piano is full of suppressed desires, recalcitrance, inhibition, conflict. Yet because it’s opposing forces are carefully balanced, they are still. And the still space, though small, is where music can spin it’s way through into our dimension.”
Where is your still place? Is it small? Is it the size of a mustard seed? That’s all He needs, you know.
“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.” Luke 17:6.
“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20
Really, God? …Nothing?
There is beauty in you. It’s waiting, just waiting, to come out. From that still, small place, somehow, you have to find a way to let it come out. To ‘spin it’s way through into our dimension.’ That music is there for a reason and someone is waiting to hear it. The whole world is waiting to hear it.
I know it’s scary. Believe me, I know. There is maybe nothing more terrifying than to let your words out into the universe alone. (tweet that)
But it can be done. You can do it. Your place of power comes from, and is bound up in, a place of both great tension, and great peace. A knowing. A still.
“Be still, and know that I am God”
So play the music, write it. Live it.
Because, in the end, the truth is, it’s not what you know, but Who.