When Music Makes a Scene

As part of a writing challenge, I wrote a scene inspired by Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18, Adagio Sostenuto. The music is wonderful, and you can listen to it by clicking here.

While I listened, I had these thoughts:

  • A great understanding
  • She realizes her true worth
  • A pleasant place has been found
  • Seeing God in natural things around her
  • Peace

As I began to write, the “her” in my thoughts became the girl in an image I discovered on a Black history website. No names were included with the image, so I named the girl “Netta.” The Rachmaninoff music moved me to write a poem-like paragraph within the scene that highlights a time of joy for her as she makes her way to a favorite and secret hideaway:

Netta was free.

No pig priming. No cotton picking. No running with the dogs to stomp the land.

No itching legs and bleeding palms.

She could sing, she could run, she could laugh,

See the sky, and look beyond what it was to what it could be.

There.

It led her down deep to the place of peace.

Though she wept, it was a cleansing joy,

a soul-lifting moment of free.


The image of the young girl (Arkansas, 1935) and the story it tells bring up a great sense of sadness in me. I cannot help but try to imagine a time of happiness for her.

So, I write.

June Story of the Month: Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing

There are potato chips all over the rug, and I think about how brave Dad is not to care about the mess he’s making.

Crazy. I’m afraid to make Mom mad like that. She’d come and get at me behind my knees with a switch.

Dad’s not afraid. He’s taking his time on the Soul Express, that radio show he likes where the deejays yell and laugh and blow whistles all the time.

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But Now She Sees

I had the privilege of singing “Amazing Grace” this afternoon at the memorial service for a dear woman and longtime member of my church. Rosemary was 97 when she died. Her losses of hearing and sight began when she was in her fifties.

To end the hymn, I planned to repeat the first verse, the last line being “Was blind but now I see” — a reference to the author’s spiritual change after becoming a Christian.

But it turns out that God wanted something different. For when it came time for me to sing that last line, the words we all heard instead were — through no prior thought of my own — “She was blind, but now she sees.”

My voice shook and tears fell as I sang those words directly to Sue, Rosemary’s daughter, from whom I sensed a beautiful peace. I cannot adequately describe this precious moment, but I hope you get at least some idea from what I write here.

Rosemary sees. After 40 years. Now. In heaven gazing clearly at her God with love and awe.

I tell you, there is no greater joy for me than singing the Truth.