Sunday, October 3, 2010

Lesson 13: Amazing Grace

Amazing grace.  Two beautiful words that well deserve some recognition on this blog.  I love the words for several reasons.  Read below:

I purchased a piano from a family friend several years ago.  A large and heavy piece of furniture to push around the living room for sure, especially when no one in the family had any musical training.  Ellen, my middle daughter, always expressed interest in playing, but given that she was 3 at the time, we held on the lessons for awhile.  She has since started formal instruction and is entering her fourth year. 

During the time that the piano just sat lonely, as a holder for an eclectic array of framed photos, I began to dabble with the instrument myself.  I thought, "Elaine, you have a brain, can read, and have a sense of rhythm--you can certainly teach yourself how to play this thing."  And I did just that.  I took out several music theory books from the library and purchased a $10 book from Amazon.  In no time I was whizzing through She'll be Comin' Around the Mountain and 3 Blind Mice.  Really though, the only song I really ever wanted to be able to play before I died was Amazing Grace.  It has always been my favorite song. 

The song clip above is my favorite rendition of the tune, performed by Christian artist, Chris Tomlin.  I can listen to it over and over again and never tire of it.  Mr. Wikipedia states that Amazing Grace is the most widely recognized English speaking song in the world.  The clips shown on the video are from the 2006 film of the same title.  I am stealing the words from the movie trailer:  "The true story of the song that inspired the world and the man who changed history."  I've never seen the film, and usually avoid movies where men wear puffy, white shirts and buckle shoes.  However, this may be worth a shot if I can tough my way through those English accents I find annoying.  The story is about the man who became a Christian, then worked to abolish the African slave trade in England in the 1770's.  It also tells the story of John Newton, the writer of the hymn, and his influence at this time. 

The direct quotation of amazing grace appears in John, Chapter 9, verse 25.  The Pharisees were investigating the healing of a blind man.  They called the man to them and were debating as to whether Jesus was a sinner or a prophet.  When the question was asked to the healed blind man, he replied, "One thing I do know.  I was blind but now I see."  Ask yourself today how you would answer that question if it was asked of you.

The words amazing grace saved me once again a few weeks ago.  I was working at the high school and had a very early start (7:15 is early for an elementary teacher).  In my rush to get out of the house in time to make my meetings, I must have forgotten to apply my deodorant.  Two meetings into my day I discovered the dreadful mistake.  I dashed across the hall to the school nurse, who is nothing less than Florence Nightingale herself.  I was rummaging through her closet looking for little deodorant samples they give out to the clueless kids.  Nursie said, "Here, use my new body spray.   It's heavenly."  Two squirts later I stopped dead in my tracks.  The scent was absolutely enchanting.  I loved it immediately.  If you read my T-shirt girl, lesson 12, you'll know that I'm not over the top on fancy clothes, flashy jewelry, or expensive perfumes.  I'm simple at heart and prefer the nice clean smell of soap.  But this scent was really different.  When I inquired about the name of it, the nurse replied, "Amazing Grace." 

6 hours later and in a few clicks of the keyboard, Amazing Grace from Philosophy was on it's way to Firman Road.  When I walk by you and you seem to think I look particularly angelic, it's probably not that--it's the scent that is getting you.

And yes, if you are wondering, I did learn to play Amazing Grace.  Even with two hands.  Sometimes when I play it, I shut my eyes and don't look at the keys.  You know the line, "...was blind, but now I see."  Yes, that line has a way deeper meaning than what I am illustrating here, but I kept thinking in case I ever did lose my eyesight someday, at least I could play this on the piano to pass the time. 

Now, if I could just find those 3 Blind Mice without any tails.  I could play this for them and they may find some inspiration in their miserable existance.  I doubt I'll locate them any time soon though, as I still have old Amtrak who will turns 20 this year.  Don't blame the farmer's wife with the carving knife.  I think he had something to do with their sorry state.

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