When my friend Cindy was in elementary school, she took piano lessons from my mother. Cindy was learning to play in various keys with their attendant sharps and flats. If you’ve ever taken piano lessons, you know that the next step is to learn to play a song with a melody enhanced by sharps or flats or naturals that aren’t in the key signature. These notes are called accidentals.
Cindy was home, practicing her newly assigned lesson. Verva, Cindy’s mom, a piano-player and singer, was listening from the kitchen. Verva soon realized that Cindy was having a great deal of trouble with the accidentals in her new piano piece. So she went into the music room and asked in a gentle way if Cindy needed some help.
Cindy pointed out a couple of accidentals on her sheet of music and said, “I’m having a lot of trouble with these casualties.”
Accidentals — casualties… I can see where a little girl could confuse the terms!
Recently I’ve been having a bit of an accidental/casualty problem in my own life. I work long days balancing my writing time, parent care, housework, and community activities. I’m often tired, but I generally get everything done unless something unexpected turns up, like those accidentals Cindy was dealing with in her piano lessons. Then, like a house of cards, my whole carefully crafted schedule comes tumbling down.
That happened a couple weeks ago when my father injured his knee while shoveling snow off his roof. Now, of course, my first question to him was, “Why on earth were you shoveling snow off your roof?” (Dad is 87 years old.) But the real issue was that he needed to go to the doctor, then to the hospital for an x-ray, then to a surgeon for consultation, then to the hospital for an MRI, and then to the surgeon again. One appointment per day, 70-mile round trips to the hospital and the surgeon. Okay, BUT I promised to get 20,000 words of a novel to an editor two weeks from now. My husband and I are moving to a smaller place in four weeks. Meanwhile, my father-in-law expects a good supper and a clean house every day. And I need to visit my mom at the home every other day, and we have taxes to do, and, and…
The whole situation is rapidly turning from an accidental into a casualty! (And I’m the casualty.)
In music the accidentals are there to produce and enhance a melody. In life the accidentals can also produce and enhance a melody. I love this verse in Romans. Perhaps it’s one of your favorites, too. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
That verse tells me that, until I stop running around trying to be the perfect daughter, wife, and writer, I won’t hear God’s melody for me. Instead I’ll focus on my frustration as my carefully orchestrated plans go awry. I’ll miss rejoicing over the extra father-daughter time I’m enjoying with my dad. I’ll forget to thank God that Dad wasn’t hurt worse than he was. I’ll forget my appreciation for my sister who is helping get Dad to his appointments and for my husband who is handing the supper times with his father. I’ll sit and stew in the waiting rooms instead of relaxing enough to read that book I’ve been hoping to enjoy.
I’ll make the whole situation into a catastrophe of melt-down proportions, and here’s the unmitigated, unvarnished truth. It’s totally my choice: melt down or look up.
So right now, I’ll look up and listen to the melody that God is composing as He blends all the accidentals in my life into one beautiful heart-touching love song.