Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Color of Patience

David has to use extreme focus to cause muscle movement in his fingers. In frustration he hits his head trying to escape the sounds and dark places in his mind. Overloaded senses make each new discovery a battle that no nine year old should have to fight. But, somewhere inside this young muddled brain, David hears music in bright colors, a musical strain that flows in and out through winding tunnels and confused darkness.

No matter how difficult it is, he is determined to play the piano. The amount of patience it takes for me to teach him and for David to learn is staggering. When his patience grows weary, he lays his left hand on top of my hand while he plays. To other young students this has been an endearing way to connect with me and gain confidence. For David, there is the added belief that touching me allows the "river of colorful songs" in me "to flow into him."

With complete focus he grits his teeth and focuses on moving the fingers of his right hand to search for a melody. "I can do it," he will say softly when he is finished for the day. "I will do it. I will do it, Teacher. I will do it." He always lovingly strokes my piano to say good-bye. My piano is the "Holder of Color" and "rules the darkness."

David knows that the arthritis in my hands is getting worse. He also knows I am struggling this winter with difficulties in music, writing, art and prayer because of the pain. If I just try hard enough, there should be success, right? Patience is not always my best thing.

Last week he held both of my hands and squeezed them. I winced and he laughed. "Teacher, it's the pain that makes the colors brighter. Your hands dropped your colors because of the cold dark. The pain can give it back. Do you see them yet? Do you, Teacher?"

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