It’s Saturday and I was not looking forward to making the treck all the way up to 145th St. but as always, once I got there I was very glad to have made the journey. I began at Riverbank State Park and after a few minutes of looking, found the piano under a swarm of little boys banging on it as hard as they could. I felt bad for the poor little piano taking a beating and told the boys that I was going to show them how to play it gently. So I sat down and played a few songs, the little boys got bored of course after about 3 notes and ran away. A few minutes later I was approached by a woman who had been listening and she asked if me I could play Fur Elise for her because she LOVED that song so much. Now, I hadn’t played that song in years, but my fingers found their way…and I played a botched, but decent version of the song. The woman left with tears in her eyes and said in broken English that I made her day!
These pianos seem to be a bit like Chinese proverbs…hidden with beautiful little life lessons. Each of these pianos has told me it’s own little story and has reminded me in a new way how to remain in harmony with the world and those around me. This particular piano told me a story about the human spirit. It said, “If it is beaten down by person after person, it makes a terribly unpleasant sound, the kind of sound that is written off as ugly or unworthy of being listened to. And if beaten down long enough pretty soon the entire piano is out of tune and can no longer make the beautiful sounds it once made.” I think it is a good lesson for us to remember this piano in our relationships with those around us…whether friends or enemies, family members or people living on the street. When we are careless with someone’s spirit, then we take part in hindering them from making the beautiful music they were made to produce. And we can never know what someone is capable of if we hinder them from reaching their full potential. That is why it’s so important to always do our best to love and encourage, especially for those who have taken a beating from life. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t responsible for their actions or their poor choices in life. It simply means that we are responsible for ours! And sometimes all it takes is one person to sit down and “play.” To treat someone with kindness and respect, and even though out of tune, the beautiful music created can lift another person’s spirit!
From this piano I went to St. Nicholas Park on 135th St and played a few songs while some very sweet kids stood around and listened. When I was finished I was pleased to hear one little girl sit down, and even though she didn’t know how to play, belted out a hilarious version of my song “I Wanna Love Somebody.” And she wasn’t intentionally trying to be encouraging…but her tribute was out of love and enjoyment…and so it made my day and lifted my spirit!
Finally I made it to my favorite spot of my entire journey playing these pianos. The Cathedral of St. John the Divine. It is one of the most breathtaking things that I have ever seen. Inside the cathedral were rows of stained glass windows, soaring ceilings and bible verses printed into the marble floor. The presence of God was palpable and I sat for a few moments on a chair and counted all the blessings that I have been given in my life! And then I went to the piano! Outside the cathedral and placed in a garden near an incredible statue that seemed to depict the defeat of Satan, sat a beautiful piano inscribed with, “The words don’t have to be beautiful. Sounds.” I got to thinking about those words as I played this gorgeous piano in a garden of peacocks (yes real peacocks). Although it can mean something different to everyone, I took it to mean that in the presence of God, what we say does not have to beautiful or perfectly crafted! We just need to make a sound…something….anything offered up will be heard! Whether a cry of anguish, a shout for joy, or an admittance of anger, doubt, or shame, it is all heard and accepted. We can really just be ourselves and make whatever honest sound we can or need to make, and it will echo in heaven and in earth like the ripples from a stone thrown into a pond…each growing and expanding and touching everything around it! I have said to many people who are truly close to me that I feel closest to God when I am playing and singing. And even though I know that he always hears my little little voice in a multitude of billions, today I really felt that he sat next to me on that piano and listened only to me.