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.
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.