Friday, October 14, 2011

2. Smiling Fingers

Sam wasn’t all that great at putting his thoughts and feelings into words. In his mind’s eye he could clearly see, and almost hear, the ‘singing and sounding’ of long ago services.

Little 4 year old Nancy would be setting beside the piano player to turn the hymnal pages. Around them and the old upright piano everyone gathered as close as they could to watch those dancing fingers and praises to the Lord for all His goodness. It didn’t matter if you were hurting on the inside or out, your toes would get to tapping and with smiles and hugs throughout.

[Note: Unless you’re in a terrible rush, you’ll enjoy one of Sam’s down-home piano stories.]
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With so many watching, little Didi was ever so careful to hold the hymnal pages in place but was captivated with the other pair of hands that moved so gracefully over the keys. Little Didi also had for her month of hymn-helping; the "responsibility" to count all the "blood" and "Bible" words, as they'd appear in the hymns that were played.

But those captivating fingers.... Didi decided an appropriate name for them would be Smiling Fingers. Yes, it had to be Smiling Fingers because every time they played, and Didi looked up, the worshipers in the little country church wore big smiles and seemed to forget their troubles for a time; joining in praises to the Lord. Little Didi felt kind-of important in doing her part because the pastor would start his message with all the people smiling.

Before service, one Sunday, Mrs. "Smiling Fingers" used some phrases from an old-favorite gospel hymn to help explain to her little helper that Jesus loves little hands, especially ones that have trusted Him as their Savior. The word counting responsibility was just a bit of reinforcement of foundational pieces of the Gospel message.

Didi's desire more than anything, was to acquire her own smiling fingers and be able to use them at home. How smiles were lacking at home. Daddy just splits wood all day long in the back yard with stooped shoulders and a "what's-the-use" long face. That started just after the coal mine her daddy worked at, closed down. The ribbon in mamma's hair disappeared about the same time the smiles did.

The next month's hymn-helper was Shawna... A camcorder was definitely needed a few weeks after Shawna began her month tour with Mrs. "Smiling Fingers." At an after service "Linger-Longer" (down-home name for a pot luck dinner) it was easy to hear someone playing the piano in a way only small children trying to imitate an adult, can do.

The scene to be forever cherished was Shawna holding a hymnal open with one little hand, and pretending she had smiling fingers with the other hand. "Benny! You get up here this instant and start counting the bloods and Bible's like you're supposed to," she chided.

Now her little brother Benny, still in three-cornered pants having just mastered crawling figured he'd concentrate on the pedals for now. Why not? No bloods and Bibles to count down here!

Pastor Jeff was taken back a bit seeing the Shawna-Benny duet. His lessons on 'discipleship in all things' was manifested by a brother and sister not even knowing the meaning of discipleship, plus… dedicated Smiling Fingers.
(end of story.)
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Sam thought about the new fancy piano the church got last year. It had a computer in it to automatically put the playing in a different key or sound, and synthesize it or something. The piano had a digital display that showed the hymn music without paper. No pages needed to be turned. Little Nancy wasn’t needed anymore. How tragic.

Another computer system projected the words and fancy background images on a super sized wall screen. Somehow it was like services these days were becoming more of a spectator sport. You didn’t even need to pick up a hymnal or Bible from the pew. Is there some way a ‘couch potato’ can also become a ‘church potato’?