Mrs. Mullin’s assignment for my practicing piano progressed from 20 minutes a day to 30, then 45, then 60 over the 5 years I went to her for lessons.  After several years away from lessons, and now a piano major in college, Dr. Mead’s practice assignment was 3 hours a day! Just the thought of being stuck to a bench for 180 minutes caused stress to mount up from my fingertips, through my arms, to my shoulders and neck. That tension transformed my fingers into stiff wooden pegs, my wrists into welded metal and my neck and shoulders into seized up pistons. It was while suffering this non-workable, debilitating dilemma, I learned the secret. I was the accompanist for a voice major’s lessons (a requirement for all piano majors). One of the voice professors kept insisting that his students picture themselves like puppets hanging limply from a string in their heads. This caused the body to be well-aligned, tension-free – shoulders, arms, wrists, all loose. This was the starting position for good breathing and effortless (read: pleasing) vocal placement. But, how to integrate non-tension into my seated, lengthy, keyboard rehearsals? After several starts and stops, I began to see an improvement in my technique, and more happily, to have less pain. I did, though, have to keep reminding myself to stay loose-focused as tension would creep in and snag me the minute my furrowed-brow technique took over.

This week, as we contemplate being oozers of peace, I think the above procedure can be helpful to us, too.  Peace is a gift we can receive again, not in doing something, but in abandoning what we are doing, especially if it’s striving and getting anxious and becoming fearful. Those ‘activities’ distance us from our resting in Jesus and close off the entry points to His peace. We need to remind ourselves (at least I need to remind myself) that Jesus guaranteed His peace-gift to us in perpetuity, not in the fragile, fleeting way the world holds out promised peace (which is no peace at all). If we can picture Jesus as the Master Puppeteer and ourselves as the puppets, and allow Him to have control of our strings, we will move to His rhythm, in His grace, happily in His control (is anyone not a control freak?), unburdened by what we thought was ours to do, blissfully gliding in sync to His slightest movement. That’s called oozing!  PD

UPCOMING ASSIGNMENT: Christmas Day is a beautiful gift, not just to believers, but to everyone in a country where it is celebrated as a major ‘holiday’ (originally, Holy Day). Especially in the US where life is lived fast and furious, depriving many of their peace, we have a rare opportunity to relax and savor the day. This year, with 12/25 falling on a Sunday, our gift to the church family is no in-person or Zoom service. Your assignment for that Day of Days, is to stay in your PJ’s, love on your gathered family and friends, enjoy good food and lots of laughter, and share Jesus stories. (Could this be the church in action?) This is to prepare for the day we’ll be in one of the many rooms of the mansion which Jesus is getting ready for us. It’ll be like that, there. Merry Christmas, y’all!

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