Full disclosure: In the ten years since God saw fit to grace this world with my daughter, I have played Barbies and attended tea parties. I have let her douse me with rouge. I have painted her fingernails. I have oohed and ahhed over dresses and skirts and pretty flowers.
I have done all these things.
But I have never, until this day, attended a piano recital.
But here I sit in the sanctuary of my church, left side, middle pew, waiting as patiently as I can for my little girl to take the bench and tickle the ivories.
Thirty people or so have joined me, many of them fathers in their own right. Plenty of grandfathers, too, and of course a full compliment of mothers, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, and what I believe to be a few stragglers who simply followed the crowd inside. All of us gathered together, all of us with strained ears and expressions that alternate between wow and ouch.
And I have to say, so far so good. The first three budding virtuosos have battled admirably. Now it’s my daughter’s turn. She stands, makes her way to the stage with a smile that is part fear and part joy and all happiness, and sits.
She performs three songs—“Merrily We Roll Aong,” “Train’s A-Comin,” and “The Old Clock.” Nothing too complicated, too over-the-top, but slow and easy and good. The right notes are intermingled with only a few clunkers, but she plows on undeterred.
She is rewarded at the end with a round of applause that leaves her red-faced and beaming. She takes her seat with the others and listens attentively.
Me, I’m glad I came. Being here is surely less of a threat than letting her paint my fingernails (which only happened once, mind you, and only because she was sick and needed the distraction and because I love her, so don’t you dare judge me) or playing Barbies. She was nervous about the whole thing, had practiced her songs every night for three weeks to the point where I almost prayed for deafness, but she refused to let fear get the better of her.
I am proud of her. For that, yes, but also for this. For what she’s doing, and for what all of these children are doing.
Because these kids are taking their first steps upon a holy path—to create music.
Seems like a little thing, doesn’t it? After all, we all do it. We sing in the shower and sing in the car and sing at church. We snap our fingers and whistle. We drum our fingers. And who among us hasn’t had occasion to reach for the nearest air guitar?
We’re surrounded by it. It’s on television and the radio, the computer and the phone. Our lives are infused with it.
But it even goes deeper than that. The Aborigines of Australia believe God sang the universe into creation. That might seem crazy on the surface, but there are more than a few physicists who now believe the universe itself is made up of sonic pulses.
In other words, creation has a soundtrack.
Which is why I think my daughter’s onto something. And why I just might go home and ask her to show me a few notes on the piano in our living room. Run the scales, maybe. Maybe teach me “Train’s A-Comin.”
Because the universe might be full of music, but I still think this world needs more of it. As much as we can give it. There are too many tears.