It was a quiet evening in the living room lobby of the assisted living center. Gilligan’s Island played on the TV, but no one was paying any attention to the rerun. Two elderly people read quietly in the nearly-deserted lobby. Another woman left to play Bingo upstairs with her friends. One couple finished a late dinner and took their ice cream to a loveseat near the readers. All we heard in the hushed room were the receptionist at the front desk and Gilligan explaining to the Skipper.
Leaving his wife with the ice cream, the elderly man unceremoniously turned off the TV and shuffled over to a piano in the corner of the room. Gently he began to play. I had never heard the song before, and I still don’t know what song it was, but it was beautiful. After listening for awhile and debating with myself, I joined his wife on the couch.
“How long has he played?” I asked her, gesturing toward the piano and the man who sat behind it. She smiled sweetly at me, but I had to repeat myself a few times before she replied. “He’s played as long as I’ve known him,” she said, adding that he had led worship in a church for years before he retired.
The residents who had been quietly reading during Gilligan’s escapades began humming along with the piano man’s simple song. I would have loved to hear him play in church.
The scenery may have changed since he last played in a sanctuary. His abilities have probably changed, too. But the man at the piano still served his God with song – even if it was in a small assisted living center with hardly anyone to hear him.
After talking some with his wife, I glanced over at the piano again. He was still playing. He never looked up to see if anyone was listening. As far as he knew, no one noticed his unpretentious solo.
But I was listening. So were a handful of others. Maybe it didn’t matter to him – I don’t think he was playing for us. Even in the front room of that small assisted living center, I imagine he was playing for the same God who once called him to play in front of congregations. And I have no doubt that the God who called him years ago was listening in the quiet, too.
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