Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Look at the Birds


I am standing in my kitchen, looking out the glass sliding door staring at the foot of snow that fell yesterday. The snow-covered woodpile next to our house (and under the bird feeder) makes a perfect ski slope for the birds. I'm smiling as I watch a few of them make their way up and down the slope. Do they know they are skiing?

The older we get, the more my husband and I enjoy these creatures...talking to them, caring for them and studying their habits. We've observed that birds seem to eat more when it snows. I feel like I can relate.

The last of the storm is spitting out a few more flakes, but I can't seem to enjoy the snow like I normally do. I feel anxious and worried. Again. 

I just received an email letting me know that a concert event I had scheduled for February has been cancelled. It's an unwanted reminder that things still aren't normal in our world and it's been almost a year. It's unusual to have anything scheduled these days so I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was disappointed. Is this what 2021 is going to be like?

I continue staring at the snow. My husband is standing beside me—having just finished his third cup of coffee. He's been outside plowing snow since 7:00 am this morning so that his shop can open for business by 8:00. I really appreciate his dedication to his work and offering another cup of coffee is the least I can do.

I was shoveling snow and feeding the birds while he plowed. I had hot chocolate.

Normally, I'm mesmerized by snow, but this morning my heart is distracted and I seem to be paying more attention to the birds than to the snow. The bright white snowy blanket has provided a beautiful backdrop to the various birds flocking to the feeder on this cold winter day; finches, cardinals, doves, sparrows, juncos, tufted titmouse and the Carolina wren.

"Look at the birds," I suddenly spoke out loud—which seems odd since that's exactly what we were doing. 

"They really show up against the snow," I continued. 

"Now we can see the markings more distinctly and identify them." As if my husband wouldn't know this.

As quickly as I said it, I remembered a phrase from scripture that I used to meditate on frequently: "Look at the birds. Don't worry about tomorrow. Take no thought for what you will eat or what you will wear." 

Ah yes. That's one of the reasons I've loved having birds around. They are a constant reminder that I don't need to worry about the future. Their melodies carried me through the initial challenges when COVID hit and all my events were being cancelled last spring. 

But today, I am simply drawn to their presence, not the songs. I take a breath and continue reflecting.

It took a lot of prayer and effort to keep my mind-set positive throughout 2020. I want to keep moving forward, looking for the positives—and there are many...it's just harder to pull them up in this moment.

I suppose like everyone else, I was planning on 2021 bringing a brighter future—a return to normal. The cancellation this morning felt like Déjà vu, which these days threatens to bring a deeper sense of despair. What does this new landscape look like for a self-employed musician and others whose work has been obliterated by the pandemic? I've been innovating like crazy. Sometimes it gets tiring.

So this is one of the ways I'm currently dealing with pandemic-inflicted anxiety and fatigue. I can't change the circumstances it has created, but I CAN work at replacing the worrisome thoughts with the phrase "don't worry about tomorrow....look at the birds."

I pulled out the verse to refresh my heart and mind...

"Look at all the birds—do you think they worry about their existence? 
They don't plant or reap or store up food, 
yet your heavenly Father provides them each with food. 
Aren't you much more valuable to your Father than they? 
So, which one of you by worrying could add anything to your life?" Matt. 6:26-27 (TPT)

So here I am again. Looking at the birds and saying to myself..."Don't worry about tomorrow." 

If you're feeling a bit worried too, here's a solo piano piece I created called "Bird Song."

Enjoy...



Thursday, January 28, 2021

'Chariots of Fire' Rekindles Hope

"When I run I feel his pleasure." That one phrase alone from the 1981 movie, Chariots of Fire, challenged the foundation of my beliefs. I wasn't used to thinking that God would take pleasure in something that we love to do. 

Though I would have never said this out loud as a child, my beliefs about God went something like this: The only time God had pleasure was when he first created man and woman. Then they "fell" in the garden. We've had to work ever since then to please him. Of course, I always felt like I came up short. 

However, during the viewing of that movie a long time ago, a seed was planted. It was a small seed of hope, but over the years it has sprouted and grown. The seedling has had to fight with all kinds of elements to keep growing and push its way to the surface, breaking through some tough thinking. But over time, I began to believe that it IS possible for us to feel God's pleasure when we do what we love. 

I had forgotten about the movie until one day when I was playing the piano in the lobby at PennState Health, someone requested the theme song from Chariots of Fire and as soon as I began to play it, I remembered the little seed and was amazed how much my thoughts have changed since I first saw the movie years ago. 

There are definitely certain songs that get an immediate reaction from the listener. I can see it clearly from my spot on the piano bench and I could see a flicker of light in their eyes as I played the simple but evocative melody. It seemed as if hearing the melody was stirring something very special in their soul. I felt it too. I wondered if they had the same reaction to the movie as I did.

Playing the piano at this venue every week allows me the luxury of paying very close attention to people and how they respond to songs. Unlike most of my concerts, where I share my story by creatively weaving stories, music, humor and media together (which I also love), this is the one time I can just sit down at the piano and play. 

I've added that theme song into my repertoire when I play at the hospital. I love to watch the reaction of those who pass by. One day I was playing the song and someone came over to the piano, with watery eyes and a shaky voice, obviously struck with emotion. He couldn't thank me enough. He tried to express what this meant to him but he really didn't need to say much. I saw that same familiar flicker of hope in his eyes. 

I think we could all benefit from the reminder that we each come with a unique gift and personality. There are thousands of piano players, but only one Frances Drost and how I might play a song is very different than the next pianist and that's what makes us each unique. 

You're the only one of YOU the world will ever know. I believe God loves it when you find what it is you love to do. And when you do THAT, he smiles with pleasure and I believe he is pleased because we are doing exactly what he created us to do.