There is a sentence in the book Hebrews that I love. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (12:2). I love this image of Jesus being the author of our faith; being the author of our lives. I picture it a little bit like the plot of “Stranger Than Fiction,” where the main character literally has an writer dictating out his life. Definitely strange.
Being the lover of adventures and stories that I am, I get a thrill when I think about my life being like one of the adventures I read about. I almost can’t believe it. I have a destiny? There is a quest out there, just for me?
I was contemplating this idea of having an author the other day and realized that there is a musical analogy for this.
You see, in an orchestra, the one you need to keep your eyes fixed on is the conductor. He (or she) gives you the rhythm, tells you when to start, indicates by his or her own attitude whether you should pull chords out of your harp in a glorious rippling sound, or whether you should play each chord in a prim, precise manner. You as a musician hold your breath with him at the end of the piece until he lets his arms fall, and only then do you blow the air out of your lungs.
The problem with the harp is that you have to look at the string to play it. Harp isn’t like playing the piano or typing, in which ‘good’ pianists and typists don’t look at their fingers. That’s not an option with my instrument.
And what about the orchestra part itself? I can’t possibly memorize all my orchestra parts. How can I keep my eyes fixed upon the conductor, the director of this moment of my life, and still play my part?
My harp professor in college taught me the trick. “Align your harp,” she said, “so you have the shortest possible distance to move your eyes between the strings and the baton. Then place your stand so that it is just to the left of the harp pillar, and raise it until you don’t need to look down at all from the conductor’s arms to your music. Make the smallest possible triangle between the three vital elements: your part, your strings, and your conductor.” That way even when you’re looking at your hands or your music, you can see his arms out of the corner of your eye.
I think that living life with Jesus as our conductor requires a similar balance. We are called to fix our eyes on Jesus and to look to him when we are discouraged or exhausted, and we are also called to play our instruments – to undertake the quest that God gives each of us. So we align our instruments and our music stands so that there is the smallest possible triangle between them and God. That way, even when we’re looking at our callings, we can still see his arms out of the corner of our eyes and we can catch his rhythm.
You might also enjoy reading Excerpt from a Letter: January 6th, 2011.
Stephanie Claussen is a professional harpist from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She performs on her harp throughout Minnesota in various concerts, recitals, and collaborations with other musicians. Consider signing up for her e-mail newsletter to be notified directly of upcoming performances and important announcements.