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!