Sundays in a house with an organist mean early starts. Heading down to church ridiculously early for your father to settle in, practise before the service, and generally get sorted out, while you put up hymn boards, or in later life, read the family’s Sunday Post in the car. The battle over who got Oor Wullie and the Broons first would probably continue today, if I still lived at home.
At the age of 39, my routine is subtly different – my father is now an occasional organist, assisting as required but not playing anywhere week in, week out. I’ve taken on that mantle, playing piano twice a week every week for Strand Presbyterian Church.
Nor am I particularly like my father when it comes to preparing for each service. Where he got down early and practised hard, I’ve got into lazy ways. I turn up far later than I would like, and I end up having to settle in very quickly, especially for the morning service.
So I sit at the piano, I get my books out, turn up a suitable page, and I stop.
And I wait.
Whatever way I have rushed that morning, that moment is special, and as I begin to play a worship song, it stays special. In that moment, as I stop moving for a brief instant, I escape from the busyness of the morning.
And I play. Play with my fingers, but also with my heart.
Presently, the minister will come to the front, and I will stop as he makes the announcements and calls everyone to worship.
Later, I will chill out, visit family, spend time with Jo, and go back to church in the evening, but from the moment I start playing until I finish playing out after the benediction, I’m at the core of my Sunday. Joining with 80 others as I play, and we sing with our voices and from our hearts in worship. Trying to help others focus on God. Amazement at God’s love. The privilege of playing every week. Being able to do more than just stand and sing. The obligation to not only play but to worship. Everything being not about me. Working with others. Pondering new songs. Rehabilitating the odd old song.
And the best of it all?
When I play, it may not be perfect. I have my share of wrong notes (or sometimes the right notes in the wrong order!) Certain songs speed up.
But I come alive. A musician is one of the things I am born to be, and with all my imperfections, that cannot change. And I love it.
This blog is written for the One Topic/Forty Opinions project of Belfast Bloggers Unite.