in the night seasons

      I can’t remember if I volunteered, but I do remember clearly that in third grade my grandma and grandpa delivered an old upright piano to our home, and my mom signed me up for piano lessons.  I’m not even sure who decided that I would be the “piano player” of the three girls, but something about practicing those drills and scales and then songs clicked. 

      During my years of schooling, I played before the service or during offering in church on Sundays, much too often for my taste; those times are when everyone’s attention is focused on the musician, so I was hyperfocused on me, and frankly surprised I didn’t pass out and fall off the slippery piano bench. The horror. I liked the times at home best, when I played out of my songbooks, pounding out my feelings to ‘The Entertainer’ or ‘Thy Word’. Or when I was accompanying my sister who would sing, so the focus was on her, and I could blend in the scenery.

      In college I’d play at Christmas occassionally for family, and in the practice rooms at my college, until piano wasn’t a priority, and then, it was just easier to slide away for awhile.  I moved to Sacramento after graduation to live near Mark, my then pre-fiancé. Though neither Mark nor I remember any of the surrounding events, we did end up moving my old piano down from WA to our soon to be first shared apartment in Cali.  We also remember pushing that upright up a twenty-step flight of cement stairs with the pastor’s son.  That was a mistake. So thankful no one was injured.  At least seriously. Do NOT attempt.

      I found how much I loved playing my piano in my own space, with no one else around. To my surprise, my grandparents wedding gift was a piano, so I picked out a petite grand, and we moved the upright back up to Spokane. We learned why there are piano movers from our last attempt, and so from then on hired them for each of our four moves over the years, as well as out of its room when we had wood floors installed.

      My grandma, and then my mom, often told me the story of how in the evening she would head to the piano and play.  It was her way, in the days before TV and constant wired connectedness, to process her day, her fears, her worries and her joys. For a couple of years in our first house, I played, but played alot less the years of babies. Sound travels and wakes babies you want to keep sleeping, and try holding a baby in your lap and playing a song.  Actually, don’t try it. It isn’t effective. Then, there were many seasons that even music couldn’t provide me the relief and comfort I needed.

      It has surprised me, actually stunned me, that I began to write songs this January.  Singer-songwriter status has been the domain of my middle sister, who has a natural talent for both, and a compelling and affecting voice. Because I am such a fan of her, it took some courage to actually face-time tell her that I had written some songs. And the complication of her being in Australia, and me being here, well it makes it hard to actually sing and play them for her.  I often think imagine she is sitting,with her guitar, next to me, working out the chords and words and melody. 

      The link between my sisters and me is so strong, and the joy of our in-the-moment closeness and understanding-without-speaking has been tested and stretched being a world apart. But something interesting has happened along with my music writing; my youngest sister is making her mark as a successful entreprenuer, and my sister in Australia has begun writing pieces for magazines and is working on an idea for a book.  We have all, without talking about it, each slid seamlessly into the creative pursuits of one another.

      Time apart, in a way we have never known, has given us an opportunity to disentangle from our assumed roles and talents.  As difficult as the time and space between us has been, we’ve been free to discover who we are, not just as daughters or sisters, but as women in our own indentity.

      The song below has been a drawn-out struggle.  I had bits and pieces of the words and phrases scribbled on paper scraps, in journals, and on the back of a receipt.  It is incredibly true that inspiration finds you when you aren’t looking. And until just this moment (actually just a moment ago in the laundry room), I thought this song was only about me, and the freaking painful journey I’ve been on the past few months. 

      I decided early this week that I wanted to write a song about my sisters. Both of their birthdays, my Mom’s birthday and Mother’s Day spring up between April 29th and May 13th. Count ’em, that’s three straight weeks of guaranteed cake, people. This song is about all three of us, and how God continues to write our stories whether we are aware of it or not.

      This week I’ve had a particularly tough time wrestling with painful defeating thoughts about my worth and purpose and general who-I-am-ness. I couldn’t even look at my music, or play the songs that have been my refuge. 

      Last night, in a bit of sleepless desperation, and in the quiet of the dark, I found myself praying. I begged God to please give me some sort of sign, just a little hope. I asked him to speak to me in the things I know. And I tossed and turned and then feel into sleep in some tentative place between not knowing, yet knowing. 
      Answers? I still don’t have them. At least any satisfying, deep in my bones ones. 

      But I do have my sisters. And today, God helped me find my voice again. In the pouring out of music on the accepting black and white keys I found a piece of me again. For now, that scrap will do, and I have hope that like the way I’ve been collecting words on seemingly random pages, there is more than I can see in front of me. 

      He will always find me and He will always find you even in the night seasons.
       In the Night Seasons

      What do you get for,
      what you pay for?

      What does it cost you,

      to spend yourself?

      What is left

      at the end of it all

      when you’re empty

      and your soul begins to fall

      apart.


      Without what I had on the outside

      What will I be–just me

      On the unfamiliar inside

      no map in my possession to find–just me


      The window to my soul,

      has been shuttered by bars

      rusted shut 

      by lies I believed.

      The work it takes 

      to open this tomb

      that used to beat for you

      I’m afraid I’ll find

      I don’t have enough.


      Without what I had on the outside

      What will I be–just me

      On the unfamiliar inside

      no map in my possession to find–just me


      This home built

      on a faulty foundation

      cannot possibly accomodate

      the me I want to know,

      the me all my own.

      So I’ll trade 

      what’s left of my defenses

      and carry in me 

      a home of beams

      and nails

      and scars.


      Without what I thought I was on the outside,

      I can no longer be–just me

      On the new familiar inside

      I hold a map with endless possibilities–

      for me.


      You found me…

      You bought me…

      You set me free…


      -“I will bless the Lord, Who has given me counsel; yes, my heart instructs me in the night seasons.”-Psalm 16:7
      -“You shall have a song as in the Night….” Isaiah 30:29

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      2 comments

      1. Wow–amazing song!!! You have great talent- don’t doubt that!!! I’m proud of you for writing- and sharing!! You have a gift!! love the stories about playing piano though the years! Love you!

        Liked by 1 person

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