The Upright Piano

Matthew 10:30-32 (NIV)

30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

A new Christmas song, Cradle in Bethlehem, sent to me and written by my friend Andrew Greer, started a rush of nostalgia today. Right from the beginning, the soft twangy notes on an upright piano sent a flood of memories of faith pouring over my heart. Reminisce of my little girl heart starting her melodic dreams.

I come from a very musical Seattle family. My dad’s biological mother was an excellent pianist with a Julliard background and Dad played in the Seventh Fleet Naval Band plus sang and led worship in our church with his trumpet. Mom also came from a strong musical background and was a singer. They both had a deep desire for my sister and I to play the piano, but there was no money to buy one in the challenging times of the early 1970’s.

At the end of my second grade, a church family asked us to rent their home while they moved to Texas on temporary assignment. I was thrilled because they left their piano in the house and our church pianist lived just a block away! I took lessons from her and became addicted to practicing, spending hours on that beautiful instrument. Unexpectedly, nine months later, my dad got transferred to the opposite end of Seattle.  No piano. No money either. My sister and I were devastated.

Shortly after our move, Mom sat us girls down and said,

“If God wants us to have a piano, we will get one! I don’t know how, but he can do anything. Let’s pray!” So we prayed for about a week, not much longer.

Mom then got a call from her old high school friend, whom she had not heard from in a while.

“Vivian, my brother owns a nursing home in Portland. They are getting rid of an upright piano and he wondered if I knew of anyone who might want it. For some reason, I thought of you.  All he is asking is $50 for gas money to move it.”

Stunned, Mom caught her breath and, of course, said yes. We all did a little happy dance and praised God! Our parents scraped $50 out of the budget along with the change my sister and I found in my dad’s recliner. To top it off, our pastor’s wife heard about the miracle and offered to give us piano lessons for free. God was so good to us.

My faith grew enormously and God taught me so much through that old piano.

Bach and Beethoven, In the Garden, The Entertainer sounded amazing on that tall black instrument, but my favorites were the Christmas carols. I heard Mary’s Boy-Child, The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire), and Carol of the Bells for the first time on those keys. So many special memories are attached to those twangy sounds.

We moved to another home and made more memories as it sat in our kitchen. With another impending move, my dad said it was too heavy to lug to another home. We sold it for $100 to apply on a new piano.

For Christmas, when I was in the seventh grade, they bought us a spinet. I loved the smaller piano but the sound of that old black upright couldn’t be replaced. The seeds planted from those early days provided a lifetime of a musical hobby for my sister and a teaching career for me that has been so fulfilling. Every time I hear an old upright sound, it reminds me of God’s concern over the smallest desires and the biggest dreams in our lives.

Incidentally, my sister’s and my faith grew so much in praying for the piano, we decided to pray for a baby brother. One year later, God gave us one of my greatest gifts in life, my brother Matthew, who is also a music teacher!

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