November 24, 2011

When practice makes perfect ... a music lesson

She sings while she draws and she sings while she paints.

She sings from her designated spot in the back of the van and she sings from her designated spot at the dinner table.

It is constant and it is natural, this forever tune. Present when she is thinking, playing, creating, concentrating ... breathing. At any given time, there is this humming of my girl.

She wakes with music because she has always fallen into sleep with music and I wonder if this music, at some point, just sank down deep. In that townhouse where we all three shared a room -- we would open our eyes, lift our heads from pillows to find her looking our way from across the room, under her name on the wall that means "Dear One."

And the music had played all night long, that one sweet melody on "repeat."

And it makes me wonder if a song, played over and over again,
could become the undertone of a life?

In this first year of school at home, we have capitalized somewhat on her love of song. Why not do what comes natural? So we sing verses and we sing the timeline. We sing poems and we sing the months of the year. We sing our way to one hundred ... by tens and then by two's.

And my husband laughs at me because I have a song for everything ... always have. But then again, so does my mother. And don't we live out what we know by heart? As a girl I took in songs about leaves and songs about snow. A song for the wind, for patience, for fear. I am nearly thirty-four years old but when I can't sleep some nights I sing the same old words. 

Be not afraid, I go before you always ... The Lord is my strength and my song ... Unto to Him who is able to keep you ... I will go if you lead me ...

And the songs are more of an asking, really. An asking to see, to really know.
I think on all those songs that carried me all those years, even when my feet didn't follow. My heart singing out the requests, then the truths, and finally the praises. It was a slow aquisition and yes, perhaps, practice can make perfect.

And didn't Augustine say that when we sing we pray double? The prayers and the praise going up like incense ...

When she was learning to talk at one she would ask me to sing the "sad song." Not because it was a sad song but because I would sing it when she was sad.

Do not be afraid I am with you, I have called you each by name. Come and follow me ... I love you and you are mine.

When she moved into her big girl bed at two she would hold my wrist with both hands, stroke her own cheek with my palm, then down the bridge of her nose. "Sing 'Step by Step,' mama."

O God, You are my god and I will ever praise you ...

I will ever praise you.

I watch her now and sometimes I wouldn't mind some quiet. I have asked to her to stop singing. But her little tune is hard to suppress and I have learned that she is not defiant. I watch her while she builds forts and blocks and while she sets up full scenarios with animal families. I used to wonder what she was thinking.

Now I know she is ever-praising, in her child-like way that Jesus says we would all be wise to emulate. I think on this and I am reminded not to cut her off mid-song ...

Perhaps instead I should join her. Learn ... from her.

And when she went to the dentist at three and cried nervous, she had no intention of crawling into that chair, certainly no intention of opening her mouth. So when she finally decided to be brave it wasn't because of anything her mama said.

She had simply recovered her memory, misplaced momentarily. She remembered her deep down song and when she climbed into that chair, she looked right at that stranger and she sang about the fear. She did open her mouth but first she sang what she knew.

When I am afraid I will trust in You ...

And she already knew those words. She just had to act them out. Live what she believed
And perhaps we learn more than just words when we sing. Perhaps we learn how to really live a life: tuning our ears to the Truth, memorizing its rhythm and its meter, listening all the time for the melody.

And then the singing. Breathing out what we have long taken in.

When I asked her over and over again at five if she wanted to ride her bike, she answered "no thanks." She had tried and had wobbled scared. She doesn't crash well and she couldn't find her rhythm on wheels. Unsure.

But just the other day she greeted warm air and more falling leaves with a thrill. And when I asked again, she indulged me and she got on that bike. She let me run along behind. Told me not to let go, asked if  I thought she could do it. I told her I knew she could. Progress...

And yesterday I let go.

I ran behind, then beside. She wobbled and slowed down, sped up again and it made me insane not to grab her, snatch her right up. My first born who I gripped in fear until I learned my own mother song--handing her over again and again. And I jogged with a grin and I yelled for her, cheered for her.

"You're doing it, you're doing it! Keep going!!"

All the while she didn't scream or squeal with delight or yell. Instead, that girl pedaled down the street for the very first time and she just hummed quiet ... found her balance and sang her little song with a tiny, knowing grin.

And I suppose it makes sense, really. She's been singing quiet joy in all of the small moments all along. This quiet singing in the big moment came like second nature.

And could all of our days be lived this way? The quiet practicing of praise in the moments ... this whole life becoming one steady song?

Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends. Would our life-song sing to Him today ... and everyday after.

"I will sing to the Lord, for He has been good to me." Psalm 13:6

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