When I was a little girl, Mom forced my sister, brother and I to take piano lessons, just like most young children. I remember quite a few skirmishes with me on the piano bench refusing to practice and Mom in the kitchen saying, “You’re not getting off that bench till I hear you play!”
By 5th grade, I begged to go another musical route: the violin. If Mom would just let me take violin lessons, I’d practice without arguing. Really! Every day!
She didn’t give in until 7th grade. The junior high school had an orchestra, so she negotiated with me. “If you’ll join the orchestra and practice like you say, then OK.”
Poor Mom. She sprung for a violin and hauled me to Evanston every week for a 30 minute lesson, but fairly quickly the practice problem resurfaced. In the end, after two years of lessons and more conflicts than Mom could stand, she sold my violin out from under me announcing, “You’re done.”
But not quite. When Birgitta turned 4, she began begging to learn the violin. I ducked her pleas for quite a while, but when her best friend Ellen began begging her mom, too, we compromised by letting the girls split lessons, 15 minutes each.
I wasn’t prepared when my childhood longing to play the violin engulfed me once again. I rented a violin and took lessons by auditing Birgitta’s lessons. I practiced faithfully for nearly a year, performing a duet with my daughter in the family Christmas program. But she quickly left me behind in her abilities, and once again it became difficult to practice. (Surprise, surprise.)
I didn’t re-rent the violin and haven’t played since. Birgitta, on the other hand, studied for 10 years, wowing us all with her beautiful music. Ellen is still playing.
Yesterday in church we were treated to a performance by a trio of sisters, a pianist, a cellist and a violinist. As they played “To God Be the Glory” with flourish and force, my love for the violin surfaced immediately. I closed my eyes, longing to climb right into the music. Oh, how I wished it wouldn’t end.
Later they played “How Great Thou Art” with the same incredible style, the violinist’s shoulders dipping in commitment to the music, her ponytail swinging. Something deep in my soul responded not just to the violin music but to the Lord, and I started to cry. Wanting to breathe in the notes, I ached to make them mine. The craving was intense, unexplainable in words.
But God understood perfectly and let me know. He whispered, “This is what heaven will be like for you.”
And it took my breath away.
Now I know why I never stuck with practicing. No matter how hard I tried, I knew it would never sound like that. But some day…
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.” (Psalm 42:1)