I rarely listen to an entire story on NPR, just bits and pieces while navigating Houston traffic. I heard an interview recently that peeked my interest so much I had to listen to the whole thing (click here to listen). Seymour Bernstein tells this story from when he was a little boy.
I was six years old and I discovered Schubert’s Serenade. As soon as I started to play it felt as though I had always known that piece. And I started to cry. Well, my mother was alarmed. She said, “why are you crying?” I said, “it’s the most beautiful piece I’ve ever heard...” I can’t account for it. I mean, how could I ever think that I knew that piece? I didn’t know anything about music at all.
I have a dear friend, an elderly woman from Poland named Krystyna. She is quite irreligious; however, she attends a small prayer group of seniors I used to lead on Wednesday mornings. She usually showed up late, arriving just in time to play Wii bowling, which we did afterwards. I never won. For some reason, she came on time the last time I met with this group, and we were singing. She sat down and joined us for the hymn, Be Still My Soul. She didn’t sing; she wept.
I mustered the courage to ask her why after I read Psalm 46. In her thick Polish accent she said, “when I was ten years old, they took away my piano.” She grew up during WWII. “And since then, have you ever played?” I asked. She shook her head, “no.”
Near the end of the interview with Bernstein, he says, “when you do something for someone else it temporarily distracts you from your own vulnerability...” Bucket List Item #213: figure out how to get Krystyna in front of a piano. Why? Near the beginning of the interview with Bernstein, the interviewer says, “when all is well with your art; all is well with your life.” Bernstein, now 88 years old, offers this poignant response, “it goes in that direction.”
At City Church, we will love the city to life by celebrating the arts as vital to the recovery of beauty.