Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Reluctant Pianist

What do a Steinway grand piano and an old home in Dunedin, New Zealand have to do with God?

Kevin and I spent a day in Dunedin at the end of February and had a lovely time visiting the Albatross Colony, driving around the Otago Peninsula and visiting Larnach Castle. A friend had suggested we visit Olveston which is an old home that was bequeathed to the City of Dunedin in the 1960’s on the condition that it was preserved as it was with its contents. We had a spare hour before heading to the airport so decided to go and find the house.

It was perfect timing as a tour had just started and we slipped into the dining room with the rest of the group. It was a large two storey home and fascinating to see the old appliances and furnishings. All went well until we entered the drawing room and the tour guide pointed out the full size Steinway grand piano near the window. Then she turned to the group and asked, “Does anyone here play the piano?”

I suddenly found the pattern on the carpet very interesting. I’m just a little church pianist … I can’t play a Steinway grand piano … I wouldn’t know what to play

Then I heard Kevin’s voice from the other side of the room. “She does!”

I wanted to wring his neck as all eyes turned in my direction. “Please will you play for us?” the tour guide asked.

I made my way under the rope barrier and sat down at the piano. What could I possibly play for this diverse bunch of people?  What would they be familiar with? Then it came to me -   Amazing Grace. Breathing a prayer for help, I placed my hands on the keys and began to play. The notes were pure and clear and by the time I’d finished, I could feel God’s presence all around me. It was a holy moment.
Amazingly, the tour group seemed to feel it too. Instead of a polite thank you, there was a collective sigh and then people started thanking me, saying it was beautiful and had touched them. I realised then how small-minded I’d been. “I’m sorry God,” I prayed silently as we moved through the rest of the house. “I’m sorry for not seizing opportunities, for doubting my ability, for being unwilling to use the gift you’ve given me to bless others.”

My brief concert turned out to be the highlight of the trip for me – and a powerful lesson in always being prepared, always ready to take the opportunities God places before me. I hope I will never be seen as a reluctant pianist again.





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