Why I Returned the Harp
Years ago, right in the middle of motherhood, I woke up one day with the thought that I must take on something new, something just for me, something outside the “mommy box.” So what did I do? Within 24 hours I had I hired a harp teacher, rented an actual harp from her, picked up the harp, and perched it next to the fireplace, right where I’d seen harps placed in old movies and at fancy reception centers. Though I had rarely been close enough to a harp to reach out and touch one, there it was—something new and exciting. I was thrilled! After the harp was squared away where it would add to the ambiance of the living room I honestly don’t remember much about the experience. I know I took a few lessons, a very few lessons and that I practiced a few minutes (and that might be an exaggeration). I added “practice the harp” to my to do list. I inserted it somewhere after “fold the laundry with James” and possibly right before “learn a Spanish word every day.”What I do remember is exactly why I returned the harp, why to this day there is no harp sitting golden and elegant in my living room. The explanation is simply this–In order to enjoy playing the harp you have to keep the thing tuned. That was it, the whole reason I returned it! I don’t guilt myself over it really. After all, tuning a harp is not exactly a “my dog has fleas” kind of an operation, and to take on a new instrument in the middle of raising a large family is not an easy thing to do, and furthermore, to my knowledge, it is not a required earth life skill. In fact I have it on good authority that learning to play the harp sometime in my eternal existence is a definite possibility.
My recollection of this experience is dim at best, but one morning dark and early the Lord brought up the subject of my brief brush with the harp and the memory of why I returned it. My alarm went off before the birds started their morning chirp. I got on my knees feeling grateful for an activity that allowed me to close my eyes for a few more minutes. As I fought to stay awake and speak with my Heavenly Father the memory of my failed harp experience danced across my mind along with a spiritual message connected to my tarnished musical past.
Heavenly Father, it sure takes a lot of work to keep myself in tune. And I can’t return this instrument. It’s part of me. In fact it is me! The most miserable person in regard to an out of tune harp is the harpist herself. It’s the same with me really. I feel out of tune on the inside long before my dissonance reaches the ears of the people in my life.
This was not a great first thought of the day. I was grateful for the truth that followed:
The good news Nannette, is that unlike your harp, you came with your own personal tuner—The Tuner. His work is to tune your instrument, your soul, to His. When you are feeling out of tune, out of harmony, and out of touch, He can give you a well-needed adjustment at any moment–morning, noon, or in the darkness of night.
What an amazing thought! What a hopeful reality! What a wonderful gift to all of us! If my harp had come with its own personal tuner, who knows what kind of virtuoso I might have become.
I will not be able to look at a harp again without imagining the Lord standing by watching patiently and waiting respectfully for me to weary of “playing” out of tune. In my mind I can see His eyes full of hope that I will reach out to Him and ask Him to tune my soul to His. It’s His work. It’s His joy. It is what He was born to do. It is what He died to do. All that is required is my humble invitation. When I kneel in the dim light of the morning or the dark of night, as I stand at the kitchen sink or wait at the traffic light or at the foot my child’s bed and express my need to be tuned to Him, He does not disappoint. Our “instrument” comes with the promise that our loving Tuner and Teacher will always be with us.
The last thing I remember in regard to my brush with the harp was calling my teacher and “letting her go.” She was kind. I may not have been the first middle-age woman to call her one day and fire her the next. I never saw or heard from her again. It’s different with the One who tunes our soul and teaches us how to live. It is not possible for us to fire Him. He loves us too much to ever go away.