The holiday season is rapidly approaching, and our son will be playing and singing in a number of concerts this year. I'm looking forward to this festive season, but that wasn't always so. I had to learn to listen for the right notes and not to criticize the wrong ones.
A number of years ago, I cringed as I listened from the parents' adjacent waiting room to our young son playing his piano lesson for his teacher, Miss Miller. He was missing notes right and left. He hadn't prepared very well. I had gone to the lesson upset and feeling badly that I hadn't seen to it that he had practiced more.
After he completed the piece, the teacher said something like, "Joshua, your rhythm was wonderful in the first two measures, and I loved the way you softened your touch in measures six and seven, and what a strong ending that was. Now let's work a bit more on this note, and here we can make that staccato a little sharper." They worked on the piece together for a few minutes, and there was so much joy in that lesson.
Then she played the piece, and it sounded beautiful. She left Josh wanting to go home and practice it until he could do the same and without any guilt for his poorly prepared lesson.
Little did she know, or maybe she did know, that I also was learning a lesson - about love. And I have been endeavoring to practice it since that day.
I had been feeling pressure and had been quite critical both of Josh and myself. Because I knew what he was capable of doing, I felt it was my responsibility to see to it that he rose to his ability.
Our mornings at the piano had not been fun. Tears rather than fingers often danced on the keys. Although he had been able to pull it off and had learned some beautiful pieces in spite of me, I felt stressed during most performances and didn't look forward to them.
Miss Miller's tender, loving attitude awakened a desire in me to see Josh's talent through more loving eyes. And to remember that it was God, not human will, that would bring his talents to fruition. I needed to love more.
The ability to love is from God, the source of all love. The Bible defines God as Love itself. Because God, Love, is spiritual and everywhere at all times, our true natures, as children of God, are pure Love expressed individually and naturally.
The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": on "Love never loses sight of loveliness. Its halo rests upon its object" (page 248).
God's love for us, His children, knows only what is good and spiritual in our natures. When the sun shines on a garden, it isn't conscious of the flowers or of a rotten apple, but it naturally makes the flowers grow and dries up the apple. It fulfills the needs of whatever it shines on.
God's love naturally causes the good in us to blossom and whatever is useless and harmful to fade away as we grow in our love for and our understanding of God and as we put this awakening spiritual attitude into practice in our lives through kinder attitudes and acts.
Miss Miller's acknowledgment of the good in Josh's playing allowed him to feel his connection to God, the source of all good. This gave him courage to trust in his ability to express more accuracy and beauty in the pieces he was learning.
Practicing has gradually become much more enjoyable and productive. Performances are happier. They are now seen as opportunities to enjoy God's qualities expressed by Josh and the other children.
Acknowledging what is good and being grateful for it are opening my mental windows so that I can see the good that God sees and knows.
Our mistakes or the mistakes of others are like the wrong notes in Josh's piano piece; they point to what is yet to be learned of God's ever-present goodness and are no part of the pure, beautiful music of our lives which is perfectly composed by the author of all, God.
Slowly I'm learning love's lessons. Sometimes it requires listening carefully for the right notes, but it is proving to be well worth the effort.
The Lord will command
his lovingkindness in the daytime,
and in the night
his song shall be with me,
and my prayer
unto the God of my life.