Harping Anew

Why do we marry,
why take friends and lovers,
why give ourselves to music, painting, chemistry, or cooking?
Out of simple delight in the resident goodness of creation, of course;
but out of more than that, too.
Half of earthโ€™s gorgeousness lies hidden
in the glimpsed city it longs to become.
For all its rooted loveliness, the world has no continuing city here;
it is an outlandish place, a foreign home, a session in via to a better version of itselfโ€”
and it is our glory to see it so and thirst until Jerusalem comes home at last.
We were given appetites,
not to consume the world and forget it,
but to taste its goodness and hunger to make it great.

~Robert Farrar Capon, The Supper of the Lamb: a Culinary Reflection, p189~

I love giving myself to music (among many things). Partly because music gives such joy and delight in temporal beauties, things that are here & now. Also partly because it serves a dimension that goes so far beyond that though, into the heavenly, the eternal, the glorious things that can not be touched. The way God created earth and matter and tangible things is so amazing ~ when it really comes down to it, isn’t it obvious that God did not create a veil of separation between the material and the spiritual, the temporal and the eternal? He has woven time and space, the seen and the unseen, the physical and the heavenly, in such a way that we can not grasp its dimension, we can not see its edges, we can only begin to imagine its overlaps.

When I was playing harp over the weekend, I was continually struck by this thought, and repeatedly returned to the thought that Robert Farrar Capon gives in the above quote: half of earth’s gorgeousness lies hidden in the glimpsed city it longs to become. The city that it WILL become. Music, and even particularly harp music at the moment, is one way I get to taste the goodness of the heavenly Jerusalem, glimpse the new heavens & new earth (where all my tears will be wiped away, by the way!), to taste goodness & hunger to make it great. Wonderful.

And of course this is not limited to music at all, but to other delights that the Lord gives. In what ways does God encourage YOU to thirst for heaven, and give you tastes to feed that appetite here on earth in the meanwhile?

Psalm 57:7-8
My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody!
Awake, my glory!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!

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If you read my post about harping a few days ago, perhaps you wonder what ended up playing out. (Pun intended.)
I continued to pray about it the last few days, and eagerly looked forward to going to the home of Miss S to meet her and see her little lever harp. What’s funny is that this harp belonged to my own friend a couple years ago. My friend was the second owner of the harp, and sold it to Miss S, but has often told me over the last few months how she wished she still had it because it was such a sweet little harp with a pretty sound. And now, ironically, the harp is mine. ๐Ÿ™‚ I am the fourth owner of this Allegro. My dad smilingly called it Ally yesterday. (As an aside, did you know that a lot of musicians name their instruments? And apparently it is an especially big thing in the harp world, from what I’ve heard. I am boring though, I call my instruments by their given names, their make! Athena and Allegro, then. But I thought my father was awfully cute for using a nickname, as though it were a pet or a child.)

After church, and after a quick lunch, we headed off to meet Miss S. Steven graciously stayed in the car with Asher and Evangeline, because I didn’t quite know what to expect inย  her home, even though she had told me on the phone that my children would be very welcome. Gabriel came in with me, and we were greeted by a lady of tall but slight stature. She oozed the essence of musician. Her home included a large area that was obviously crafted carefully into a studio. There was a place for shoes by a bench, right near a powder room, where we asked to wash our hands (I was teaching Gabriel that it is polite musicianship to wash hands prior to touching anyone’s instrument). There was a corner of the room that was filled with windows where the sunlight was streaming brightly in, with sofas. It was a lovely little sitting area, where I could easily imagine music students lining up, waiting their turn, nervously folding & unfolding hands like I used to do before my lessons. This waiting area was set apart by vertical screens of sorts that felt very Victorian in some sense. Beyond that were three baby grand pianos. Each had cushions stacked up to various heights on the benches, and little footstools to short legs to rest restless feet. There were a couple electric keyboards to one side, and more than one filing cabinet filled with music books. Oh! the organization was delightful! It made my tummy flip, it was so great. ๐Ÿ™‚ I could see some plastic drawers that were filled with other various music teacher supplies: perhaps flash cards, theory helps, maybe even some metronomes, I don’t know. But even at first glance around when Miss S let us in, it was one of those moments where you feel like you have walked into an old fashioned music studio. I could sense Gabriel felt it too. He in his sweater vest, tie, and Irish cap ~ me in my pantyhose and high heels. It felt very… well… elegant.

As Miss S repeatedly encouraged her large black poodle to stay off to the side on a designated rug, Gabriel and I enjoyed fingering the harp. Two strings had snapped, so I pulled those out. Gabriel and I each took turns sitting, leaning the harp against our shoulder, running our fingers along the strings. I lifted each lever in turn. I felt around the column and the neck and the base for dings and dents and scratches ~ it was mostly very smooth. My friend who had previously owned this harp assured me that it had spent years being babied. ๐Ÿ™‚ While I am not precisely sure what one does or doesn’t do in the babying of a harp, I could tell that it had not been thrown around or wildly abandoned. We played it with its four legs on (better for me), and without the legs as well (better for Gabriel). We figured out how to take it in and out of the padded carrying case ~ and, wonder of wonders, how wonderfully strange it felt to be able to pack up a harp and sling it across my shoulder! I don’t know if I have a picture anywhere from my various times carting my Athena around, but it is something of an ordeal. As tall as Steven, more than half my weight, fragile and delicate yet strong and unweildy… my father crafted and constructed a metal frame with casters, some padding and velcro straps, so that I (even when I was only 17 years old) could haul my big harp around by myself… as long as I had his Suburban, with all the rear seats out, to drive. I don’t think I have taken my harp anywhere since I played in a friend’s wedding two years ago. So the novelty of carrying a harp around, in a padded carrier, simply slung over my shoulder? It was kind of invigorating.

Gabriel handed Miss S an envelope with cash in it, and our contact information on the outside. She asked if he would come back to visit her, and bring the harp, to play her something once he has learned a song or two.
She gave us extra strings, the tuning key, and a small stack of harp music books to zip into the outer pocket of the harp carrier. It was shockingly easy to fit the harp in the back of the car: I simply set it in the back! And it fit with much room to spare, even with a large cooler, a basket full of Bibles & water bottles, and a small pile of other things that always live in the back of the vehicle (like a miniature potty, jumper cables, and a small plastic bin of emergency kid care like clothes, snacks, acetaminophen, and plenty of wipes). I couldn’t help but laugh. “Harp” and “portability” have never been simultaneous in my vocabulary or experience before, so this is a new delight.

Psalm 92:1-4
It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
to declare Your steadfast love in the morning,
and Your faithfulness by night,
to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
For You, O Lord, have made me glad by Your work;
at the works of Your hands I sing for joy.

I made sure to ask more than once, if Miss S was certain she was ready to part with her little harp. She sounds very busy with teaching piano and developing a new instructional method for playing by ear, and said that something like playing harp with any diligence or frequency is a few years out for her, and in the meantime, a wide car + narrow garage has left her with a new purpose for the money we would give her.
And then she said that she just really felt a peace about our home being the right home for this Allegro.
She remarked numerous times how it matched us, our coloring and our hair. How perfectly it suited my Gabriel.
How it just seemed “like a God thing” for the timing to happen how it did.

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And I could not agree more.
I told her about how I took a little step of faith by saying no to a harp just like this one about forty-five minutes before she called me last week. How it might be a very small thing in the big scheme of life and holiness, but it was still waiting on the Lord for His direction and His provision. I told her what an encouragement it is in times like these, to have pictures and experiences of the Lord reminding us that He knows all our desires, He cares about our wants & needs, He holds even the smallest of details in His sovereign hands.

And whether He says yes or no (in big things as well as in little things), He is good and wise and altogether wonderful.

Psalm 71:22
I will also praise You with the harp
for Your faithfulness, O my God;
I will sing praises to You with the lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.

So the corner of our family room has a new little lever harp tucked into the corner with my piano and my faithful pedal harp. The children enjoyed playing it yesterday. And Gabriel and I played our first duets.

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The goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, as we look ahead through these little glimpses into the glories He has prepared for us in the heavenly kingdom, is sweet and lovely. And He is good.

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One Reply to “Harping Anew”

  1. Oh, I am sooo thrilled and excited for you! And I love the nickname that your Dad called your Allegro; cute! ๐Ÿ™‚ The harp is gorgeous and it sounds like it’s just the perfect size. I love that photo of you and Gabriel playing together at the bottom. I loved hearing the back story on the harp and how your friend used to own it…. but most of all, I have loved hearing how God worked everything out perfectly. It’s a “God thing”! Yes, He is altogether good and wise and wonderful!

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