Life’s Bigger Story

     The other day I read a quote in Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project blog that started me thinking about the bigger story of life. The quote said,

“One does not play Bach without having done scales. But neither does one play a scale merely for the sake of the scale.” – Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace[1]

     During childhood years when I took piano lessons, I did a poor job of playing either scales or Bach. While this quote didn’t hook me on a personal level, it did trigger thoughts of my cousin, LaRayne.

     LaRayne is a little more than two weeks older than I. She’s a remarkable woman in many ways, but one of the characteristics I admire most about my cousin is her commitment to teaching children to play the piano. For over 40 years, little ones have been coming to LaRayne’s home, sitting down at her grand piano to play scales and, I suspect, learning to play Bach.

     As I reflected on the words of Simone Weil, I thought: LaRayne doesn’t only coax her students to play scales with an end goal of playing Bach skillfully. LaRayne loves her young students. She works to develop characteristics of persistence and excellence that will benefit them not only when they tinkle the ivories but in every aspect of life.

     From LaRayne, my thoughts skipped to the season of Lent we’re in.

     (I know! My thoughts skip a LOT. I told my assistant, Debbie, the other day my thoughts are like popcorn. I’m fortunate to have her nearby to help me gather them into a bowl!)

     (All right, back to LaRayne.) For her entire life, my cousin has been active in a liturgical denomination. We’ve not discussed it, but I imagine she’s involved currently in the comfortable and meaningful liturgy of the Lentin season.

     My faith background didn’t emphasize Lent. In fact, I perceived it was probably only a legalistic religious practice. I never understood the significance.

     During the past few years, I’ve realized the benefit of placing special spiritual emphasis during Lent. The season turns my focus to the life and larger purpose of the incarnation—God, the Son—Jesus, who came to earth as man.

     While attempting to deny my flesh enjoyable pleasures (this season, that’s sugar, flour and dairy), I’m reminded of the many inconveniences Jesus endured when he left his home in Heaven to enter a messed-up, sick, oppressed, and violent world.

     In addition to denying certain fleshly desires, I try to be more intentional about corralling sins of my heart, such as being judgmental, critical, prideful and self-sufficient. I’m reminded more than ever this Lentin season that Jesus, during his earthly ministry, paid greater attention to the heart of humanity than to outward behaviors.

     Lent seems like an especially good time to read New Testament passages of Scripture, focusing on the way Jesus did life. I watch more closely how he:

     interacted with a variety of people and personalities

          demonstrated compassion

               confronted ignorance and evil

                    forgave and healed the weak and disenfranchised

                         dealt with social and political unrest

                              and, MOST of all, how Jesus LOVED!

     A few weeks ago I told you one of my 2016 goals was to meditate on certain Scriptures as well as read a short devotional each morning and each evening. One of the Scriptures I’ve been thinking about each day during Lent is:

let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith… (Hebrews 12:1b-2a, NIV © 1978)

     The second part of Hebrews 12:2 speaks to the bigger picture. About Jesus, it continues,

Who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

My prayer during this season of Lent:

Thank you, Jesus, for enduring the shame of the cross for my sake. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into the bigger picture you saw when you submitted to the agonizing ordeal of the cross. During this season of Lent, please help me begin to lay aside distractions and those things in my life over which I keep tripping. Help me catch a glimpse of the story you want to write with my life. Empower me to be patient and cooperative during the process of editing. Help me and help my friends always remember the story you want to write is so much bigger and better than anything we could imagine. – Amen

Listening on YOUR Journey

  • Even if Lent has not been a part of your faith tradition, in what ways could you use the days prior to Easter to focus more fully on Jesus and the bigger story God wants to write?
    May the story of YOU be blessed beyond your wildest imagination…

    Sue Reeve

    In case you wonder, like I did: According to Wikipedia, Simone Weil [1909-1943] was a French philosopher, Christian mystic, and political activist.C:\Users\Sue\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Outlook\U08VSMT7\02272016_1745n.jpg

    One recent rainy Saturday, Ron and I met our daughter, Sarah, and two grandkids for breakfast. Here: Emmi, almost 5, strikes a pose for Grandpa. Reeve, almost 6 months, has not yet been smitten by the camera bug. These munchkins filled our Saturday morning with such joy!


    My husband, two daughters, two sons-in-law and five grandkids are some of the sweetest chapters in my life story. Each has brought blessings beyond my wildest imagination.

    2 thoughts on “Life’s Bigger Story

    1. Sue,
      Love those photos.
      I am honored to be a part of your Blog. Thanks for the text message, I went right to the computer to read the Blog. Then all week I told my older students about the blog and the quote. We had fun discussions. 6 of the high school students are preparing to take state piano exams April 14th. We are heavy into scales and arpeggios and chords and 4 pieces of literature for each student, one of which is Bach. How perfect your timing!
      And yes, Lenten liturgy. The liturgy we are using reaches deep into my soul. Deeper than anything ever has reached. Of course I can’t share that with you, because I have to sing it to feel it. But here are a few quotes. The liturgy titled Call Us Home.

      Return to the Lord. The one who is waiting, whispering your name tenderly. Pleading with your heart to come home. Return, Return, Return.

      God, Creator, Call us Home. God we are longing to come home to you. We anticipate
      that day when all creation finds it’s home in you.

      Blessings to you on your journey this most Holy Week. You will be in my thoughts and prayers.

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