“How about ‘Holy Ground? Would you play that for us?’”
Larry Landusky was our church’s pianist for the entirety of my growing-up years. I hadn’t heard his music in a few decades, but he just happened to be in town for business, and he just happened to be willing to meet at a friend’s home for an impromptu Thursday evening concert.
“Well, I usually have the hymnal when I do. I’ll try, but I can’t promise it’ll be worth hearing.”
He turned to face the keys, his hands poised only briefly before they found the opening triad, note by note. From there, the music poured from his body, and the sounds embodied the lyrics.
There are God-stories, and there are God-moments.
Being a minister’s child, I can’t even guess at how many services I attended. But the music was always a delight. Sunday after Sunday, choir special after choir special, offertory after offertory, Larry’s hands were the instrument of what I now understand to be the Holy Spirit, and the music they created had been nothing short of a balm for my then-young soul.
It was true then, and it was true that night, when he sat surrounded by a handful of us, our kitchen chairs circled around the piano: My mom and dad, who later said that what they’ve missed most about their time at that church was Larry’s music; my husband, whose schedule surprised us all with an open evening; my children, who’ve heard about this music and now had the chance to listen for themselves; Sandy, who so graciously made her home available to us for this last-minute, late-evening concert; Rick, Sandy’s husband who was called from this life but still greets every guest with his warm smile captured in the picture by the back door; and JP, Rick and Sandy’s son who’s headed to Belmont to study music this fall.
My father’s face showed very same expression I used to see when I glanced at him from my seat in the congregation. Sitting on the platform near the pulpit in his designated spot, he’d seemed at times to literally soak in the beauty as it swirled and wrapped itself around us all. His was a look of awe mixed with sheer delight and true peace. It was an expression that mirrored what I felt in my own soul during those moments. It was the very thing I felt on Thursday night.
A fleeting reprieve from life’s chaos. A moment when all senses were submersed in His presence, protection, peace. “Sanctuary,” my husband said later as we tried to put words to the experience.
Holy ground, indeed.