Keeping the Faith: Keep Playing

(AP Photo/Michael Flotron)
AP featured image
In this March, 2015 photo, a person sits at an upright piano that had been hauled up to Topanga Lookout in the Santa Monica Mountains in Calabasas, Calif. For a couple of days this week, a Southern California hilltop was alive with the sound of mystery. Hikers venturing to Topanga Lookout found a battered upright piano sitting on a graffiti-scrawled concrete slab with a panoramic view over the mountains between Calabasas and the Pacific Ocean. Turns out, the piano was used for a music video by Seattle-based artist Rachel Wong. The cinematographer, Michael Flotron, says he and four others used a dolly and rope to haul the 350-pound instrument a mile up the trail on Tuesday. After the shoot, it was too dark to get the piano back down. Flotron says people seem happy to leave it there. But if necessary, he’ll haul the piano back down.(AP Photo/Michael Flotron)

I’ve written here (and elsewhere) before regarding my faith. It’s a huge part of who I am and something that, when the moment is right — and the spirit moves me — I want nothing more than to share with the world. Because it is so big, so powerful, so much more than the here and now.

And, let’s be honest, friends, the here and now is a big ball of suck. I don’t really know how to pretty that up. We’ve got a bizarro global pandemic that’s simultaneously deadly (for some) and majorly disrupting; societal unrest — stemming from legitimate concerns, yet morphing into a destructive push toward anarchy; people at each other’s throats, figuratively and literally.

All the things we usually look to for a sense of normalcy — sports, concerts, weddings, funerals, graduations, vacations — are largely off-limits. And every last move we make/word we say is politicized. (And woe be to him who says or does the “wrong” thing — or doesn’t say or do the “right” thing — for he shall be demonized, canceled, and erased by the insatiable mob. Granted, there’s only been one who was without sin — yet even He all-too-often gets the mob treatment, except when He can be wielded as a convenient weapon against others.)


On a personal level, since October, I’ve lost three (yes, three) beloved pets, my Dad to Alzheimer’s, and learned just this past week that my Mom was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. (Did not see that one coming.) I have other people close to me facing serious health crises. I have had friends and family members recently lose jobs or face the very real possibility of their previously successful businesses going down the tubes. I have a daughter who (on top of enduring the aforementioned losses) has been denied the standard senior year rites-of-passage and is trying to navigate going off to college shortly when we can’t even be certain what that’s going to look like.

I was discussing this very real laundry list of woes with a friend the other night and, when she questioned how I’m handling it all, I told her — first and foremost, I’m leaning into my faith. I know that’s counterintuitive to some — it even was for me at earlier times in my life. It can be tempting, when the storm clouds gather and the entire universe seems to be hellbent on bringing you to your knees, to give in to the despair and self-pity. I have done so. Invariably, however, after wallowing (and feeling utterly justified in doing so), I’ve reached a point where I’ve looked up and realized the world hasn’t stopped revolving and, as long as I’m in it, I’d best find a way to keep apace.


It’s why I return again and again to this song (and the story behind it, which I wrote about here):

As it so often does, this morning’s message from my church connected with my soul. The Pastor, Greg Holder, acknowledged the extraordinary breadth and swiftness of the changes our world is experiencing. He also highlighted the importance — the imperative — of continuing to move forward in the face of it all.

And to conclude the message, he employed a beautiful analogy — describing his experience as a young child, playing the piano with stubby little fingers and an extraordinarily limited repertoire  (“Chopsticks”) which then would give way to Heart and Soul — and mellifluous harmony — when his father would join him, encouraging him to keep playing. The wondrous, amazing sound produced by the combined effort of one little boy and his loving father, playing alongside him. (Video below is cued up to that part of the message but I invite you to watch the entire service.)

I’m going to continue to carry that image with me. And remember, as I move forward, hour by hour, day by day, that though I am but one — with meager playing skills — I am not alone. And I will keep playing.



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