Heart and Soul

April 26, 2013 | 15 comments

A hotel lobby in Mexico … March, 2012:

It started because I couldn’t get the piano to open.

I wanted to play a simple song on that pearly baby grand, which was preening like a supermodel in the middle of a polished hotel lobby in Mexico. But the cover hiding those 88 keys wouldn’t budge.

That’s when she stopped by, the waitress in the white blouse with her glossy black hair pulled back. She set down her serving tray, a circle balancing several wine glasses.

“Here, señora,” she said, “I help you.”

“It is ok to play this piano, yes?” I asked.

“Oh yes, señora. Yes. No trouble.”

She and I tried to pry open the key cover. It wouldn’t budge. And right about then, I was feeling like the annoying American tourist making subtle demands.

I read her name tag. Lucy. Her name means light. And she was all light, her face rapt, and her smile that spread across her face like a sunrise. And she was determined … and downright illuminating.

“It is no trouble, really, Lucy,” I shook my head, but she popped it open. I gasped, worried that we’d broken something. She threw her head back with a victorious laugh that painted that grand, columnar lobby with contagious paisley joy. I couldn’t help but laugh with her. And suddenly, we were making music there, without having played a single note. My Spanish is halting and yes, it’s true, she does know English, but together, we were most fluent in this language: joy.

Lucy was all light, saturated light, spilling over on me, and onto a cavernous, echoing room.

I sat on the piano bench.

Suddenly, an idea: “Lucy, do you play?”

Oh, no, she says. No. No. No. She said she had never played piano.

I pat the bench beside me. “Oh Lucy, won’t you play a song with me?”

She looked around the room, then back at me, and with a hand to her chest, she seemed to suggest the question: Who, me?

I patted the spot on the bench beside me. “I will teach you.”

And that smile — biggest smile I’d ever seen — just grew two inches wider. Lucy the Candle sat by me, aglow.

I told her she had just four notes to play, and I plunked them on the keyboard for her: C. A. F. G.

She learned those notes, straight away. And I began the melody, with my head keeping a metronomic beat. Side by side, two women fluent in joy, played a song called “Heart and Soul.” And we played it with heart and soul, we did.

It was one of those moments when you are overwhelmed by the beauty of the singular second in which you are living, without a care for what happens next, or who’s watching, and you just know that the only thing that matters is the making of a song. It’s a surprise of the spirit, and you don’t want it to end.

But it did end, and Lucy stood up, with her hands cupped to her mouth, surprised by what she’d done, surprised by the beauty of making beauty. Or maybe embarrassed. I can’t say for sure.

I hugged her, and thought I might just cry, all that emotion wanting to choke out real words. “Gracias,” I whispered in her ear.

Later, I went to tell her goodbye. She hugged me again. “Señora Jenny,” she said, “I was thinking just now, that you gave me the very best moment of my day. I will not forget. Thank you.”

I held her, promising that I wouldn’t forget either. “Me, too, Lucy. It was my favorite, too. You gave me my very best moment.”

A video: Lucy and I playing Heart and Soul in a hotel lobby … (RSS and Email subscribers may click here to see the one-minute video.)

(Piano photo sourced via Flickr, Creative Commons. Post from the 2012 archive.)

by | April 26, 2013 | 15 comments


  1. debyholtschlag

    How I love that His Divine Appointment’s, when we are present and don’t miss them, enable us to create music in our extended family. Music that is joy to carry in our souls while walking to the next Divine Appointment. As we live – making Disciples – Play on!!

  2. Michelle DeRusha

    I read this before, and yet, I cried again. I. love. your. heart. Miss Jennifer Lee. Truly.You are SUCH a giver.

  3. Joanne Norton

    I agree, Michelle. You, Jennifer, have a heart for many, and spreading around the world. [You, too, Michelle.]

  4. Laura

    LOVE THIS. I cried. Laughed. Swayed and clapped along. Beautiful. And yes, joy’s the same in any language.

  5. David Rupert

    I don’t play any instrument, but would love to have someone take the time to show me a few notes. You never know where Lucy is today because of that!

  6. Barbara Isaac

    This made me cry for joy.. oh, the love of God reaches deep.

  7. Abby

    That was beautiful Jennifer – you even captured the moment on video. I think both you and Jenny will always remember this. Thank you for sharing it in such a lovely way.

  8. Sylvia R

    What a fun post! I so enjoyed being there with you and Lucy, in your light and joy and music—Heart and Soul, mine are singing now! 🙂 (And all this was before watching the video.)

  9. Nancy Ruegg

    Debyholtschlag above expressed beautifully what I, too, felt as I read your story. The rapturous joy of such Divine Appointments is beyond description. And, indeed, the afterglow of each Divine Appointment helps carry us through to the next. Thank you, Jennifer, for drawing attention to the importance of seizing each opportunity to reach out to others.

  10. Karmen

    Beyond words. You set this story up so beautifully that when I realized there was a video it seemed as if I had already seen it!

  11. Lynn Morrissey

    And the beat goes on! I read this last year, and was doubly blessed by music and joy! It brings back memories of when I was a kid playing the same song (sometimes the drum-beat bass notes, and sometimes the melody), always thrilled that I could play an actual song. But the thing is, Jennifer, that you helped *somebody else* play a song. You always share the song and the Song! You are wonderful, and I could tell that Lucy thought so too!
    PS What I really loved about re-reading this post is the reminder that I have been following you for over a year now, and your wriitng, your life, your love just keep growing–heart and soul! Thank you for entering my life.

    • Lynn Morrissey

      When Floyd mentioned a “deserted” piano below, I just happened to think that there are deserted grands in two doctors’ buildings where I go. What a waste. I am always tempted to sit down and play and sing, but I need sheet music. So next time I go, I am going to do this, because after all, who wants to waste a piano or a song? That’s nearly sacrilege. God gives us music to share. And, Jennifer, just got back from our Bach dress rehearsal. Oh…..so magnificent. Bach surely knew how to compose, heart and soul! =] (signed all his music, Soli Deo Gloria: to God alone be the glory)! Yes!

  12. Floyd

    The impromptu meetings in life can be such wonderful memories when one has the right perspective. You definitely have the right perspective, Jennifer. The few songs I know I play when I come across a deserted piano… to share that with another is even sweeter than the music itself. Good one…

  13. Sharon O

    What a blessing and a gift you gave to her that day.

  14. Mai Bateson

    Brings a lump in my throat! Very inspiring! Joy language draws out love even to strangers we don’t know! Your such a blessing… Hope I can be an inspiration to someone.. one day.. 🙂 STAY BLESSED…


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