Chiming In


I’m not really a big fan of Elementary School “concerts.”  My distaste started in first grade when my class sang Zippa Dee Doo Dah while wearing bluebird masks.  Something about a bluebird on my shoulder, if I remember correctly.    I was pretty proud of my mask and all, but was totally upstaged by my older sister who got the solo in “Little Bunny Foo Foo.”  My parents didn’t even mention my mask-muffled singing.

The following year, my class got stuck with a square dance.  The upside came when I got partnered with the boy I loved.  The day of the performance, however, I burnt my hand trying to get cheese toast out of the oven.  Instead of a romantic twirl, he held my wrist and commented on me smelling like ointment.  My sister got the lead solo of “drummer boy”  that  year.  My mom still brags about how she was the only fourth grader who could keep a beat.

By third grade, I had filled out.  A lot.  My primary role at all school sings became standing back row center.  All the other kids lined up according to how much smaller than me they were.  My sister continued to star with harmonica and stand-up bass solos.  My mother framed the pictures of her.

Up until last week, I was pretty sure my son had inherited my abhorrence to all things involving small children singing.  In Kindergarten he got a “U” (as in “unacceptable”) in music for refusing to do hand motions to “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” Ironic?  I think so.

Then somewhere around last Monday, he started to act really fidgety about his upcoming Spring Showcase.  I assumed it was dread, but it turned out to be excitement.  All he would tell me was that he had a solo.  “Finally,”  I thought, “he broke the curse.”

I could not wait to witness his new-found stardom so I got to the concert early (as in ten minutes late instead of twenty) and pushed over a couple toddlers to set up my camera in the aisle.  My son’s big moment went something like this:  

The music teacher called him forward and handed him a hand chime.  The Preschoolers rose to the front of the stage.  One loud music teacher and twenty whispering four-year-olds sang passionately about Freddy the Flea  crawling on their toes.  About the time Freddy hit their belly buttons, the music teacher pointed at my son and he rang his chime.  Once.  That was it.

My husband and I looked at one another and burst into laughter.   Don’t get me wrong we were very proud of him.  But he took his solo so seriously, had worried so much about it, had talked it up so much  that I was expecting an operatic outburst of “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”  Not a one note solo in Freddy the Flea.  After the concert I gave him a big hug and his first question was “did you see my solo?”

I was awestruck a bit.  That he  found so much joy and pride in such a small thing.  And the crazy thing was that the song really would not have been the same without him.

I often feel like God has given me a small part in this life.  A single chime to ring as back-up to the real performers.  I wish that I had more money to give, more talents to use, more faith to move mountains.  I often think that I have somehow disappointed God, and that He  in turn as set me aside. 

I think God would have me see it less like a small part and more like a solo.  For each of us (in His good thoughts towards us and good plans for us) God has placed us in families and jobs, churches and schools.  And He has placed us with such care that they would not be the same without us.  I consider the people in my path each day: clients, kids, family . . . and so on.  I can honestly say my life would be less without them.

“Be faithful in the little,” God says, “and I will make you faithful in the great.”  Not that He will give us more chimes, but that our chimes will have greater impact.  The little things are the true test of our character, the tone that we bring into others lives. 

May you seize every opportunity to chime in with love and grace,  by deed great and small, for those who God has surrounded you with. May you find joy today, wherever God has you.  Watch and wait for Him to point, for He has placed you with care in the only spot that would not be complete without the note you bring.

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