Montreat Hall

When I was six years old, I started taking piano lessons. I stuck with it through my freshman year of college, with lofty goals of one day playing for a packed house in Carnegie Hall; in a beautiful dress and elegant updo.

I switched from piano performance to social work after my first semester of college.

I wish I could add to that “and I never looked back,” but it’s just not true.
I look back every day.

And perhaps that looking back is what leads me to this place – it’s not despair, per se.

It’s just a kind of darkness that’s just come to visit me for a while. It’s not the looking back itself, it’s what I’ve done with all the glances in the rear view mirror of my life.

There are these little voices that like to tell me I’m just shy of good enough- and when I see a beautiful piano, I am paradoxically filled with awe and pain.

Awe because it’s a piano and pain because I’ve failed that piano.

The same little voices say things like “you shouldn’t be doing this job and you know it; what kind of minister holds a grudge against God?”

Well, voices, the kind of minister who spent a childhood worried about things no child needs to be worrying about- like losing a parent to chronic illness at any time does.

The kind of minister who wants to do well and be a good servant of the Lord and is instead overtaken with fear of not being good enough, of what will, or will not, or might happen does.

The kind of minister who is afraid to deal with the many griefs being carried around for so long does, because, as C.S. Lewis would say, when your eyes are blurred with tears, you can’t see God.

My pastor suggested the other day that I find a river bank and wrestle it out, like Jacob.

And that wrestle is coming.

For now, though, I lay in a bed in lovely Montreat Conference Center in North Carolina, as I participate in a discernment retreat with my church- asking what God would have us to be and to do.

And I enter this night’s rest full of peace I’ve been looking for; after playing an impromptu concert on the beautiful baby grand in the lobby.

I was in my pajamas and road trip hair, but people came to listen, asking me not to stop.

As I played my best loved hymns I asked of God what God would have me to be and to do.

For that moment, God said “play.” And so I did- asking God to receive each note and chord from my fingers as a fragrant gift- among the last things my soul has to offer.

And God did, and filled me up again, reminding me that it was I who turned away into myself and my own issues;

that God did not abandon me; and as I finished my concert at Montreat Hall with It Is Well With My Soul, I felt, from the top of my head to the soles of my feet well indeed, deep in my soul.


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