Yesterday, an amazing thing happened. I had my day mapped out when a friend called just as I was on my way out to do some volunteer work at the church, where another friend was awaiting my help. My friend who called is the director of our community women's chorus, in which my wife sings. It seemed that their regular accompanist, a wonderful pianist, was quite ill. Another accompanist had been lined up to take her place, and he, too, was ill. My friend, the director, asked if I would be willing to fill in. Mind you, this call came just before 10:00 AM, and the choir was to rehearse at 11:00 AM for a performance at 11:45 on music I had never seen before. Some of the music was quite difficult, and I knew to play it with accuracy would have required hours of preparation for me.
Without hesitation I agreed to help the choir out. I took my wife's folder to the piano and began playing through each of the pieces the choir was to perform that day, trying to identify what was absolutely essential from the accompaniments and what could be omitted without throwing the singers off or doing serious musical harm. Within thirty minutes, I had gotten through each piece, leaving me fifteen minutes to dress and get to the rehearsal.
My wife was very nervous for me. The amazing thing was that I was absolutely fearless about what I was about to do. My focus was on enabling this dedicated choir to perform as they had planned and taking pressure off their director so that she could conduct with confidence. I accepted the fact that I would make some mistakes, would have to omit much that was on the printed page, and would even have to replace the written accompaniments with my own improvised accompaniment at times, but I knew that unless I stepped in, the performance would have to be cancelled.
In the past, before I began my practice of meditation and altered my pattern of prayer, I would have been terrified to take on this responsibility. Even had I agreed to do something like this, I would have been a nervous wreck, making many errors because of my own fear and out of the sense that much attention would be focused on me. None of that anxiety was present. I did what needed to be done with joy and accepted that perfection was not the goal. The goal was helping out when I was needed and centering my attention on the well-being of my friend and the choir she directed. What a wonderful sense of freedom this new attitude of peace and joy brought to me, this gift that God was giving me. I no longer needed to be fearful or feel inadequate because I was incapable of attaining perfection in my playing. I only needed to think of doing what would be beneficial to others.