March 2, 2012: Music helps visualize a beautiful path to peace, by Barbara Akers

March 2, 2012

I never cease to be amazed at the way God weaves life moment by moment.

While playing the piano one morning, I received several welcomed phone calls from family and friends. Before returning to my piano, I checked for any new emails and was surprised to see I was asked to write a column for the Blade-Empire. My first thought was could I ever compose a piece worthy of printing in the time allowed. Within minutes though, I realized my morning was already writing the piece for me. The theme — “building community, nurturing relationships: a path to peace” — was exactly what my phone conversations and piano music had been speaking to my heart.

During my phone visits, no world peace treaties were signed, crimes continued to be committed and injustices and poverty still overwhelmed people’s lives. That morning, though, found me coming alongside family members and friends as we each poured ourselves out, the good, the bad and yes, even at times the ugly. There was some laughter and even once the choking back of tears. The conversations were filled with life: births anticipated, relationships desired, choices being made, thankfulness for each other and even amazement at dire situations playing out to perfection. We were a community; we are a community. We are there for each other, always striving to build each other up and never tear down.

The song I was playing that morning was “How Beautiful” by Twila Paris. I never tire of the continuous practice as it fills my soul with joy.

One word is printed above the first note to describe the manner in which it should be played, “flowing.”  About midway through the song the flow changes with larger chords, different runs and even a brief new rhythm. I find my fingers stretching and my mind tensed trying to accomplish the passage. Shortly, it quiets down to very simple flow again. Someone unfamiliar with the song could easily think it is about finished.  The soft passage is leading to an impressive key change and powerful flowing music to the slowed end. Throughout the music there are a numerous instances of notes played together that normally would be thought to clash, yet when mixed in with other notes they bring the perfect blend of harmony.

There are two phrases in the lyrics that lend well to the message of this article.  The first is “how beautiful the tender eyes that choose to forgive and never despise.”

We all have at times been on the giving or receiving end of hurtful words or actions. Can we choose today to ask forgiveness from those we have hurt and offer forgiveness to those who brought us pain? Can we feel the “how beautiful” already showering down on us?  Romans 12:18 states, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” The whole forgiveness issue depends on each of us individually. As we are able to offer and accept forgiveness, we will experience inner peace. Forgiving is always worth the cost.

The other phrase is “how beautiful when humble hearts give the fruit of pure lives so that others may live,” which takes me straight to Galatians 5:22-23a:  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

Just think what a ripple effect could occur if we each could be humble enough to allow those “fruits” to flow from us to others. Can we choose today to work on having that beautiful outpouring from us to others rather than no outpouring or worse yet, harsh words, impatience, hatred and tearing down? The fruit of the Spirit when shared will always build up and nurture.

The phrase “how beautiful” occurs 20 times in the song. If even one were removed, the lyrics would be incomplete.

We will each desire the song of our life to be one of beauty. How many times will we allow the Master Composer to insert “how beautiful” in our composition? Will we choose to have a simple flow from start to finish or will we welcome more challenging passages that stretch and tense us and develop strength and growth within? Will our life song build towards the finish? As our responsibilities from earlier years change, we may just find opportunities to serve, give and come alongside others knocking at our door.

Will we want those notes that should clash interspersed throughout our life song? Think for a moment. Every one of us is capable of being a clashing note. Beautiful harmony is only achieved as we look beyond ourselves. As we slowly master that more difficult task, we will realize that community is being built, relationships are being nurtured and the path to peace is almost visible.

How Beautiful.

— Barbara Akers is a wife, mother and grandmother who lives in Concordia.