In one of my favorite movies, Mr. Holland’s Opus, the main character, Mr. Holland, a band director, is trying to teach a frustrated student to play her clarinet. They work for weeks and weeks, without much success. They explore the mechanics of the music, the techniques of the instrument—all to no avail. Finally, trying to capture the spirit of the music, Mr. Holland asks her, “What comes to mind when you think of how this piece of music moves you?” “I think of my Dad,” she says. “I think of how he says my red hair looks like a beautiful sunset.” “Then play the sunset,” responds Mr. Holland. At that moment, the student begins to grasp the intimate gift of how to blend intellect and emotion into the artistic expression of making music. It is a powerful moment.
The point is clear. There are striking differences in the most important moments along life’s journey. Differences like:
Playing the notes OR Making music.
Going to work OR Fulfilling a career.
Pursuing a degree OR Completing an education.
Going to church OR Being the church.
Knowing who God is OR Having a relationship with God.
Being married OR Two people becoming one.
Having power OR Making a difference.
Telling people OR Leading people.
Too often our world spends most of its time in column one. We convince ourselves that time in the first column is the same thing as moments invested in column two. We struggle and struggle to connect the notes of our lives, one to another, and we forget to play the sunset.
In these Lenten days leading to Easter, I want to find my seat in the rehearsal hall called Life and learn from the Maestro. Jesus’ teachings tell me there is a difference. A big difference. He calls me to spend more time in the second column of life. I want to have that divine relationship. I want us to be church. I want to make harmonious, spiritual music. I want to know how that works in my head and I want to feel it in my heart. I want to play the sunset.
What do you want?
(Original content published in March 2001)