Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Natural Ability

I took piano lessons for four years when I was in high school because my mother wanted me to do so.  I had played the trombone in junior high but decided to drop out of band when I was going into high school.  My mother decided that if I learned to play the piano then I could help her out on Thursdays in the summer when she went to the nursing home to entertain the residents.  She wanted them to sing and made them listen to her try to lead them in singing.  I think they just enjoyed watching her jump around while she was singing so they sat and watched but rarely did any of them join her in singing.  Maybe they did not like her song selections either since they were all hymns

Anyway, so I did take piano lessons for four years.  I was even in a couple of piano recitals, along with kids who were much younger than I since few high school students were taking piano lessons from the teacher I had.  I liked this teacher though because she let me choose the music I wanted to play, not hymns like my mother wanted me to play but show tunes and popular songs and a bit of classical thrown in for good measure.  I played well for a teenager who did not practice as much as he should have.  I played for mom's nursing home show too in the summers, hitting many clinkers as I tried to grind out the hymns she wanted the old folks to sing.  I did not play well but the residents never complained. I think they thought it was cute to have a teenage boy playing a piano and they watched every move I made as if I were the object of the day to be admired.

Today, I can play well enough to be embarrassed by my playing skills.  I only play hymns nowadays since I work in the church business but even those suffer greatly by my poor playing skills.  I am like Lot's Wife, if I look away from the page, I turn into a bumbling fool trying to play the piano.  I keep my eyes fixed on the page and do not sing along if I am attempting to play for others to sing.  I cannot do two things at once when it comes to this skill.  I need to concentrate in order for it to happen.

I have always been envious of those who play by ear, whether they play the piano or the guitar or any other instrument.  Some people do not look at music at all.  In fact, some people who play the piano cannot even read music.  They simply sit down at the piano and their fingers play and for some reason the tune leaves their brain and travels down their arms to their hands and they simply play.  If I do not have music in front of me, nothing can happen.  I have no musical imagination.  The notes do not happen just by my thinking about them.

Why is it some have natural talent in some areas and others have to take lessons to try to learn the same things?  Why can some people habla Espanol or spreche sie Deutsch easily and others of us take language lessons for years and all we can do is say hello or count or name the colors in a language?  Why are some adept at tennis or swimming or sports of all kinds and other must practice and put in a lot of effort to make a good showing?

We can those things that people can do well "natural ability" or "gifts" or talents".  We refer to them as "God-given" because the people who have such abilities can use them naturally and easily.  They seem to be a part of the genetic makeup of some persons and not a part of other people.

Could the same be said about spirituality?  Why is it that spirituality comes easily to some and it seems to be hard to grasp for others?  Why is it that to some knowing how to live and what to do in life is an innate part of being human and for others they live lives of confusion and turmoil because they are constantly making wrong choices in life?

Jeremiah spoke of a day that would come when "No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, 'Know the Lord," for they shall all know me, from the least to the greatest..." (31:34a,b)  He spoke of a time in the life of the people of Israel when the knowledge of their God Yahweh would be an innate part of being human.  That day has not come, either for the people of Israel or any other part of the human family because the knowledge of God as an innate part of living would produce the reign of God within the lives of human beings.  Some humans come close.  They know how to serve God and neighbor most of the time.  All of us fail now and then, however.  We all need to be taught how to live by learning from one another and studying the writings of persons inspired by God, both biblical and persons in society who have something to say to us concerning the life God would have us live.

God told Jeremiah that God would write the law on their hearts and they would be God's People and he would be their God.  They would just know what it means to love God with one's entire being and to love one's neighbor as oneself.  That would be a part of human existence in the same way that one breathes or receives blood through one's being.  Knowing God would an innate part of being human.

When will the day come when humans love one another instead of destroying one another?  When will it be simply natural to hold the hand of another human being and not see skin color or difference in language or culture as a wall but instead observe it as a characteristic that makes another person unique and beautiful?  The day is surely coming, says the Lord.....one day.

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