Drive-by discernment

In 1973, we moved out of a parsonage into a bus to work full time in concerts and conferences. We owned a bread truck (with our logo emblazoned on the sides) which we stuffed full of things, we rented a storage unit, gave away some things including an upright piano. I can’t remember where we got it. No room in the bus! We gave it to a family with then young children. That husband and wife later established a church and then built a church building where 200-400 people gathered to worship.

We received a letter today about the piano. Since the five “little ones” now have little ones of their own—in college, involved in ministries—the family has no need for the piano that sat in their house since October 1973. Yikes! You do the math.

“…we just walked ‘your’ piano (the one our five kids took lessons on…) to the curb. During evening and late afternoon, we watched as people came by, tinkering with, playing on and gazing on this lovely piece of history. One lady came by and sat down and played a tune, stopped and talked, relating earlier piano times of her own, wishing she could ‘just take it.’ We replied ‘Of course you can.’ A young man driving by, pulled into the drive, flung open the door and began to play. He too wishing he could take home ‘such a grand instrument.’ He said he ‘hoped to find a way of getting it home.’ Pure excitement and wonder from a twenty-something.

“None the less, the evening wore on and the night came. No one had come to escort the ‘grand dame’ home for keeps. The morning came. I was sure I’d see her at the curb still waiting for someone. Thru the dim of the morning, I thought I saw her still standing in all her dignified manner. Not so! She was gone to a good home, I presume.”

As I remember the piano, it was not “dignified” when we owned it. Add four decades. It was played by a couple of Gospel Music’s finest pianists and a songwriter or two when they visited our home. Carole, Joyce and I rehearsed for hours around that piano. We were glad to have that family want and then use it for what became ministry gifts.

The writer of this letter has a dramatic flair. Jen Hatmaker’s parenting style is familiar to us because Camille came from the same training ground. Permit me self-indulgence and space to celebrate God’s work as the letter continues:

“Your legacy still lives on. All the music, words of joy to match, live on. The music does live on. The ripple of hope is still alive in the hearts of so many. We will never know how many ‘til “The Gate”. We give God the glory and thank you.”

As I remember, it was an old-style, black, upright piano which weighed a ton. I don’t recall it possessing any inherent spirit of grandness or dame-ness when we had it. It spent many more years in our friends’ home than ours. At the same time I do not doubt that those people who stopped to play it were attracted to “something about it” which was imparted by the family in whose home it soaked up atmosphere and listened to the conversations.

Forty-one years—if I did the math correctly. What inanimate object has lived in your house for four decades? Think of the conversations it has heard, atmosphere that has soaked in—spirit (not Spirit) it exudes to traffic on the street.

I hope that piano can still hold tune and that it will bless its new home with the best it has absorbed.

©2014 D. Dean Benton

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