A Trifling Thing—But Not Necessarily a Cake Walk

My sophomore year of college, I decided to take piano as a class. Breaks from school spent at my parents’ house and around their piano reminded me how much I missed it, so I registered with a teacher and took my piano books from high school back with me, on the plane.

My first lesson was spent playing for the teacher songs that I knew, and we made our way through the books flipping pages and playing until the page turns began to reveal songs I hadn’t learned yet, and it was as simple as that flick of a wrist that introduced me to Golliwog’s Cake Walk. From the Debussy Children’s Corner book. Alfred Edition. Page 28.

Ugh.

The pianos were located off the gym in a bank of small side-by-side rooms that from the outside looked like a long hallway of doors in a row. As I settled in to practice one early morning, I was innocent of the frustration before me, hurrying to fit a run and breakfast and a few minutes at the piano with time enough left over to intercept a kiss from my beau while he crossed the campus to his first class. I had thrown frayed jeans on over my shorts, a thermal with a big hole in the shoulder (college poverty and not a fashion statement) over my tank, my flustered-hair was sticking 45 ways out of an elastic, and as the flaccid banana peel I had dropped in the tray next to my music started to brown and turn, I attempted to play.

It was apparent immediately that I might not make it out of there in time for that kiss. The counting was too much, the song too odd. It was apparent a few minutes after that, that I realized the good chance of not mastering this song EVER on the ivories. I paused, hopeless, just long enough to think a mishmash of “please” and “now what,” when suddenly, in the practice room next door, someone played the entire piece of Golliwog’s Cake Walk, beginning to end, in perfection.

I listened, agape. I listened in a dawn of relief and realization. I listened to the foreign melody of it and committed that to memory.

As the piece was finished in a perfect flourish of thirty second notes and staccato and flats, I came back to the reality of what had just happened and felt a wave of embarrassment that someone else—someone TALENTED—had heard my flailing and failing and knew I needed an intervention. I waited a good 10 minutes in silence just to not “accidentally” bump into the maestro in the hall.

But as I waited I started to think beyond the reality of it. I thought of the fantastic—the disembodied actualization of a need I hadn’t even uttered, the need of a frame of reference, an example, something to go on. I needed to hear, and I heard. And the gift of the right song from places unseen, at that moment, was nothing short of a miracle.

My God is a god of small things. He’s in the details. He knows who I am and he knows exactly what I need, when I need it. And He showed me that, by revealing himself outside a holy place, in a asylum-like room that smelled sweetly of bananas, to a sweaty, distracted girl, who wasn’t necessarily ready to meet him that morning, but met him nonetheless.

About Brooke

(Blog Team) is attempting inner om with this writing stuff. Proud to claim four loud children, a patient husband and a fat black cat as family, she feels blessed to be their mommy-- their giver of kisses and baker of cookies. She is ever seeking a good novel and wishing for the sand between her toes, palm trees, the ocean.

6 thoughts on “A Trifling Thing—But Not Necessarily a Cake Walk

  1. I loved your last paragraph. My favorite spiritual moments are like that–unexpected, unplanned but absolutely confirm to me that Heavenly Father KNOWS me and loves me and is so ready to help.

  2. Brooke I love your post! It reminded me of my my days at BYU when I learned that I wasn’t nearly as talented at playing the piano, or singing, or running, as I thought I was in high school. But I also learned that God didn’t compare me with the person in the practice room next to me. He just wanted to me to learn and grow!
    Your post also reminded me that “He knows who I am and he knows exactly what I need, when I need it”. This was exactly what I needed to reflect on today. Thank you. Thank you.

  3. This story is going to stick with me for a long time, I think.

    It makes me want to both go play the piano (something I’ve told myself for 2 years I would re-learn, but the difficulty of the task seems daunting) and pay more attention to where God is in the small things in my life.

    Thanks!!!

  4. I was unfamiliar with this song, and thought others may also be, so here’s a link to a YouTube rendition of it.

    I’m impressed not only with your musical ability, but also touched by the insights you gleaned and so masterfully expressed. What a beautiful lesson. Thanks for your monthly posts here…I always enjoy them! ♥

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