Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Sarah Bessey: In Which I Am Practicing

Sarah Bessey is a young mom from Western Canada who blogs and is just about to see her first book in print. She has an open heart and a gift with words. Last fall she wrote a post called In which I am practicing, and it spoke to many people. One was Jada Swanson, a friend of Sarah's, who shared the reading in our church service last Sunday. It was a moving and powerful presentation that I wish I could share with you.

As it turns out, there is no recording of Jada (or Sarah) performing the reading, but there is one of another young woman sharing it. Her name is Sarabeth Jones and she is a writer and actress on staff at a church in Arkansas. She sent the audio clip to Sarah and Sarah said I could post it here. (Thank you Sarah!)

So click here if you'd like to hear Sarabeth as she reads Sarah's words below, In which I am practicing.
* * * * *
I have practiced cynicism, like a piano player practices scales. I have practiced being defensive -- about my choices, my mothering, my politics and my life -- until I was on the offensive. I have played with repetition, outrage and anger, sarcasm, disappointment. I called it critical thinking to hide my critical and bitter heart, and I wondered why I had no real joy.

I have practiced poking holes, deflating arguments, I have set up my piano on the border between Funny and Mean, playing sarcastic scales in the name of wit. And over an over and over again, I practiced and practiced, but no one wanted to hear me play.

Give me just a moment here, follow me outside. Because see, I'm done with this grand piano. I am done with this glossy stage. I'm done with the concert proficiency of all the places I have been before. I am ready to hope for something new. So here, now, let's head for the wilderness together, I've got just the spot in mind, and wouldn't you know it, out here, in the sunshine, there's a battered old thrift store piano, just for me.

Look at me, clumsy, and learning to play goodness and truth, like scales all over again. I want to practice gentleness and beauty, over and over again, until my fingers find the keys without thought. I am performing the bare basics, once more and then one more time and then again, boldness, discipline, silence, prayer, community.

I want to practice faithfulness, and I want to practice kindness. I want to practice, with intention, joy. I won't desecrate beauty with cynicism any longer, I won't confuse critical thinking with a critical spirit, and I will practice, painfully, over and over, patience and peace until my gentle answers turn away even my own wrath. I will check the notes, ask for help, and I'll relax my shoulders, straighten my spine, and breathe fresh air as I learn, all over again, the gift of grace freely given and wisdom honored, and healing, and when my fingers falter, when I sound flat or sharp, I'll simply try again.

I'll practice the ways of Jesus, over and over, until the scales fall from my eyes, and my ears begin to hear, and one day, my fingers will be flying over the keys, in old hymns and new songs, and on that day, when I look up, I bet there will be a field full of people dancing, whirling, and clapping their hands, and babies will be bouncing, and I'll be singing the song I was always and ever meant to sing, the rocks will be crying out, and the trees will be clapping their hands, and the banquet table will groan with the weight of apples and wine and bread, and we'll sing until the stars come down.

* * * * *

Go to to meet Sarah Bessey and read her blog.
Meet Sarabeth Jones at
Here's Jada Swanson, who introduced us to Sarah's post.
And here's where the photo came from.

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