Fire-engine red pianos have popped up in airports and train stations in France. Some visionary group must have imagined that placing them in bustling places would foster creativity, community, and glory.
So in the midst of an arduous journey I found myself in the subterranean train station beneath Charles DeGalle International Airport. Hundreds of people crammed the complex until the only vacant seat in sight was the empty piano stool. I sat quietly with my back to the instrument while a conversation with the Spirit unfolded in my heart:
“You know… you could turn around and play this piano.”
(Me) “I know, except I don’t like to draw attention to myself, and besides, I’m sure there are lots of people here who could, (shudder), play better than me.”
“Yes… That would be terrible, wouldn’t it, if there was someone else here who could play better than you, and who is also NOT playing? Son… I know you’re tired, and I know your heart. You don’t have to play, but if you don’t, you’ll miss a blessing.”
It doesn’t make me proud to admit it, but I did not turn around and play that morning, and so I’ll never know what God had in store for me or anyone else. (For those of you who don’t understand this, we musicians can be notoriously insecure and laughably complex about these sorts of things.)
One week later, as I walked through the airport I passed not one, but two red pianos. They were being played by professionals and amateurs alike: Chopsticks, faltering renditions of classical pieces half-learned, brilliant, LOUD progressive jazz, and all sorts of things that stressed and weary travelers don’t necessarily want to hear while they’re waiting to board an airplane.
I sat in quiet observation and listened to the familiar voice in my heart:
“You know, Son, you could play something very tender and restful. These people are stressed. Look at them.”
“I know”, I said. “Maybe I will. But that hipster couple sitting next to the piano look like they’ve heard more than enough. And with their crazy hair and body markings, I don’t think they’re going to be into ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow.'”
“Son… what will happen if you don’t play?”
“Exactly.” He said.
I drifted across the concourse, seated myself at the instrument, and with all the tenderness I could muster began the tinkling intro: “Some day I’ll wish upon a star, and wake up where the clouds are far behind me…” I wandered quietly through Somewhere Over the Rainbow and glided into the gentle strains of “Leaning…. leaning, safe and secure from all alarms… Leaning, leaning, leaning on the Everlasting Arms.”
It was painless. I slipped from the stool, and glanced up at the hipster. Our eyes met. “Thank you.” He silently mouthed the words, nodded his approval, and closed his eyes.
“And thank you, Son”, whispered the Spirit in my heart.
I don’t know what happened. God knows. I did my small part and felt refreshed. But maybe there’s more to the story that I’ll get to hear some day when “clouds are far behind me.” In the meantime… I think perfectly tuned acoustic pianos will be everywhere in the Kingdom!
12 thoughts on “Red pianos and the Kingdom”
Great narrative! I probably would have responded the same way as a musician. We do get really insecure about things like that. Glad God gives us second chances to be obedient! 🙂
Thanks for the encouragement, Nick. We’re an insecure lot, aren’t we!? I’m thankful for second chances, and third, and fourth, and fifth, and…..
There’s nothing like obedience, Don – blesses you, and blesses others, and glorifies our Father! So glad you did it.
Thanks Betty. I so appreciate the parable of the two servants. I hope to be the one who ultimately – though sometimes lately – obeys!
Thank you Don. I needed this.
Scott! It’s always good to hear from you! I’m humbled that you’ve been encouraged! It’s a learning process for all of us!
I agree about the pianos in heaven. I do not play well, but I enjoy sitting down at the piano & playing whatever comes to mind. I should do it more. It brings me comfort & peace.
Louise! You’re a great pianist! And yes… I hope you’ll be doing it more!
This encourages me to listen to the voice of God again. To slow down, lessen my constant complaints, turn off the video/fb/phone and just wait. Eph 2:10
Wow! Great response, Oeland! Thanks for the feedback, and the inspiration of your example.
Love this, Don! So glad you were able to lead us in praise yesterday!
Thanks Laura! It’s a gift to be reconnected! I had such a great time with you and the family on Saturday evening!