Weeks ago, while in Egypt, I stretched myself by inviting myself to a stranger’s house, and then praying for his mother. I stretched myself by asking questions I wanted to know the answers to, even though I knew they weren’t always polite ones. I’m not sure this was always such a good thing, for me or for the others, because I hardly know the Egyptian or Muslim culture. I’m not sure how kindly people take to my directness, or what I say about my reactions to their culture. It is a relief for me to know that my resurrected Lord can fix the bodies I fall over and injure while trying to stretch my muscles. So I will continue to ask questions, but try to grow in honoring people as I learn about their culture.
A week ago I stretched myself a bit more by playing in a house concert. As I wrote in my last post, it was kind of scary to expose myself as a musician to others, especially strangers and other musicians. But I did. And stretching my spiritual muscles was rewarded.
The musician in me woke up, after a long sleep. Or was she resurrected? I started to play the piano again, and have begun practicing some other pieces. I began listening to other music as well, particularly the music of Max Bruch. As I listen, I notice that I’m more open to the beauty of the music than I’ve been in a long time. I’ve also begun listening to progressive rock, since that’s the music that influences my friend, and I’m curious. I discovered a group I’d never heard of before – Rush. Listening to progressive rock stretches me still more.
It had also been a long time since I’d written any songs, so I started listening more closely to what was inside my heart, hoping to discover some themes for lyrics. I began writing in my journal again, exploring my thoughts and feelings. And out of that, a song came! Well, to be exact, song lyrics came.
I decided to send the lyrics to Frank, who played in the concert with me, and see if he could come up with a melody. This was also stretching myself, since sharing my music with others has also caused a couple of traumas in my life. But that saying, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” proved true. I gained. He went right to work on the music and sent a song back! I wasn’t completely satisfied, so risked a rebuff by letting him know about my reservations. He came up with a compromise, and we have a really cool song! When it’s polished, I’ll put it online, as I learn that new skill, too. This experience was also rewarding, because my risking expressing my true feelings about the first version of the song ended up with what I think is a better result, at least for me, who wrote the lyrics. This is all new territory for me. I am not completely grown up yet.
And another thing too. Working with someone else who is good at what he does, someone who respects me, who honors my wishes, turns out to be better than working all by myself. It expands my own contribution, sort of like Jesus’ loaves and fish. Or this result: 1 +1 = 3 +. How many of us end up living alone for the rest of our life because someone hurt us? By protecting ourselves so much from others who may hurt us, we may be missing out on some great companionship. In the United States there are more adults living as singles than married. Married people live longer than singles, though. Combined efforts are actually a good thing, even if people sometimes fall over each other.
Today I heard a woman on the radio talk about why she likes singing in a choir. When singing in a choir, she said, you have the contribution of many people, and each part is important. There is an explosion of energy in combining efforts, she said. It is synergetic - expansive, not only musically, but also in communication. Many kinds of people come together to sing, and people who would otherwise not know each other, share their lives.
That was another way stretching helped me. At the concert, I met a violinist who wanted to play with me. We met this week, made some beautiful music, and had a lot of fun. I was introduced to the Dvorak Violin Sonatina Opus 100, I have that and more music to learn, and more musical opportunities coming up. Creativity is nothing but variations on a theme, but that’s the miracle of creativity, I think. We build on the work of others.
None of this would have happened if I hadn’t played last week. Taking risks isn’t always rewarding, but I think if we don’t give up the first time things don’t go so well, we will be rewarded in the end.
Did I wake up, or did I experience resurrection this Easter week? New life is pulsing. I’m discovering the benefits of synergy, and it feels great! I wish the same for you. Stretch yourself a little this week, and see what happens.