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I am writing this as I sit at the back of the sanctuary at Imani, working and waiting as our piano is being tuned. The piano was a gift from one of our members. It belonged to her mother, who has passed away. Our church member wanted us to have it.
It is an old spinet piano, and the tuner said it obviously had not been tuned in a long time. Because of that, and because of the piano’s age, he said he could not bring it all the way to the standard goal of “A440” in one tuning. If he attempted that, he was sure that many of the piano’s strings would break. He said he’d have to bring it closer to that standard this time; and with each successive tuning, he’d be able to bring it progressively closer until it was there.
The gentleman then proceeded to spend close to three hours painstakingly working on the piano - key by key, note by note. Hardly discernible (to me), incremental changes in the tone of each, until he got them as close to the standard as he could without breaking them.
God knows, and accepts, that we are not perfectly “tuned,” and we are not even capable of being perfected all at once.
And it occurs to me that that’s how God works with us, sometimes. God knows, and accepts, that we are not perfectly “tuned,” and we are not even capable of being perfected all at once. And that is not because God lacks the power to force us into perfect harmony with God’s will for us. God could do that. But at what cost to us?
I believe that God, who created us as we are, is gracious enough to respect who we are, to meet us where we are, and to bear with us as we grow - sometimes at excruciatingly slow rates of speed - closer to our full potential as human beings. God is right there as life experiences stretch us, test us, and change us in ways both subtle and dramatic. We toughen up, as needed. We soften, as needed. We mellow, as needed. We age and mature. We grow.
The piano tuner told me that our piano - though it would not be tuned to perfection - would still sound perfectly fine to all but the most discerning listeners (read: music nerds) among us. In other words, most folks would have no idea that it will take one or two more tunings to bring it up to standard. He said that it would be a non-issue when the piano is the only instrument being played. And, when it is played with other instruments, it would not be difficult for a skilled musician to compensate and play harmoniously with others.
We, as works in progress, have gifts and graces to offer each other right now.
Likewise we, as works in progress, nonetheless have gifts and graces to offer each other right now. We are not comprised solely of our flaws and weaknesses; we have strengths and beautiful attributes as well. We can offer each other love, compassion, kindness, forgiveness, and mercy. We can, at least, offer each other some of those as God works with us, painstakingly “tuning” us, to perfect any sharp or flat “notes” in our character. In community, we can learn to harmonize, to compensate for whatever is missing or still needs work; and make beautiful music together, for the glory of God - our creator and patient, compassionate “tuner.”