It’s New Year’s Eve. Not my favorite holiday, unless I spent it with people I love and enjoy. (Which will be the case this year!) With the turning of the year, there is a bit of reflection and self-analysis. Part of it is the nature of my work as a chaplain. And it’s also part of my CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) curriculum. I had to write a reflection based on a difficult experience in my life. It wasn’t hard to think of an event; it was much harder to convey the reasons WHY it was difficult. (I think this is because we are in a twitter-verse where we hear a “First World Problems” sneer at our “problems”…)
I finished writing a draft of the event and was taken aback. What was a kick in the gut for me was a simple phrase by a piano professor: “Stop. You are embarrassing me.” I spent the next two years trying to please someone who did not like my more “organic” style of playing classical music, who chose flashy 20th composers for my Mozart pathos, and who belittled the creative empowerment of my beloved high school piano teacher, Mr. Straus.
I experienced a curious development as I wrote and reflected on this story: I remembered why I loved music. And I remembered that I was created to express my heart and love for God in specific ways. They may not float your boat. You may not identify with what is my groove. But I will no longer be coerced into a mold that is not “me” — and I have to tell you, that is refreshingly freeing.
So here’s one for the road — a glass raised in thankfulness to Mr. Straus, who held to his calling of seeing and knowing the inherent musical gifts of each of his students, bringing them out with his characteristic humor and high expectations. A glass raised to my family, who believed in me as well. A glass raised to my husband and daughters for their love. And a glass raised to all of us who live out the diverse ways God has gifted us, challenged us, and prepared us to be unique vessels of Light to a world so bent on darkness.