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  • Writer's pictureKipper Ackerman

The View Through My Harp Strings

During the last week of my grandfather’s life, I found myself looking through pictures with other members of my family and clinging to every memory that we could pull from the ones discovered. Tremendous waves of memories came rushing over us all as we reminisced of the wonderful times we have had as a family on the farm and the many vacation destinations that my grandparents shared with us all. But, as I flipped through the thousands of pictures spread across the floor, the ones that really caught my eye were those that captured moments through the strings of my harp. I don’t remember either of my grandparents holding a camera during these performances, but the proof was right there in front of me and I think it is safe to say that my grandfather was doing most of the picture taking. These pictures were similar to many that I have recently taken while gazing through the same strings. Little did I know, my grandfather had noticed the same transformation of how things appeared through the strings some twenty five years earlier. After studying these pictures carefully, I couldn’t help but rush to get my phone and look back at all the pictures I have of images through the strings of my harp. Brides, funeral flowers, church altars, patients, IV poles, children, the ocean. If not through the strings of my harp, many of these images would have still claimed beauty and celebration. Yet, others would scream out pain and sadness. But, through my harp strings, all of these images told a similar story. A story of peace. The music was the same in some places, slightly altered for others, but what the music did was bring a calming peace for those close enough to hear.

After looking at all of the pictures I could possibly pull up, I grabbed my journal and began to look back at several of my entries and couldn’t believe what I found. There were only two entries where I had documented what I “saw” through my harp strings. I don’t usually share my entries in this format, but I found it important to share as I had recorded it so that one of God’s miraculous plans could be revealed. So, that you could see how pieces of His puzzle come together in His time.

Entry # 48

June 20, 2013

Soni, diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer, had been admitted to the hospital to receive treatment and was on day two of her treatment when I arrived at her room with my harp. I knew her family very well, but it was the first time I had ever had the pleasure of meeting her. On this day, I had my own harp with me on the floor. Weighing in at eighty-two pounds, it is quite the sight for sore eyes, especially in a small hospital room. And, as I brought the harp into her room, I noticed that her eyes were fixed on the magnitude of its size. It seemed as though she was examining each string, one by one. Her daughter-in-law, Christon, a beautiful woman of faith, who I am honored to call my friend, was sitting in the chair by her side.

Both of the ladies listened with beautiful smiles on their faces as I played several hymns. Soni never took her eyes off of my fingers and the melodies seemed to be a source of peace for her at the time. But, by her side, was my friend. Her eyes were closed and she quietly mouthed the words to “It Is Well with My Soul” as my fingers released the melody. I watched as the sun, shining through the blinds of the hospital window, created a warm, glowing blanket across her face. There was no doubt that she felt the presence of God holding her tightly, because her entire demeanor changed. And, for the next few moments, as I looked at the two of these ladies through the strings of my harp, I could feel no worry. I could see no sadness. I could sense no pain. There was only peace and healing. I know that the harp music was comforting to Soni, but what I saw in her daughter-in-laws face was something new. Up until this day, I had always entered a patient’s room with the idea of creating a sense of peace and healing for the patient. I never considered what the melodies would do for the caregiver.

After witnessing how music can bring peace and healing to not only the patient, but also the caregiver, I began to have a deeper understanding of how the Lord would be working through the music of my harp. He definitely did not need me to do His work, but the fact that He had chosen and wanted me was humbling. And, where shame had taken up residence in my heart, there was now a sense of redemption while being in His presence with my harp and on that day, everything started to become well with my soul.

Entry #286

October 22, 2013

I’m up here in the evenings now, with my Dandi, and I learned that Soni is over on oncology. It looks like hospice is going to be called in. I had the small harp with me in my granddaddy’s room, so I walked over to oncology, roughly 9pm, and I found a private sitter in the room with Sani. What a special time we had as I shared music with Soni and this beautiful woman who kept her company. Soni isn’t able to respond much now, but I could tell she enjoyed the music as she closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep. I can clearly remember the first time I played for her on the other side of this floor. She didn’t say much, but she was so attentive to the music and I know that it provided a peace for her that words could not deliver. I pray that tonight’s music did the same. After leaving her room, I took the harp back to my Dandi’s room up on the 5thfloor where I curled up in the recliner and prayed for a calming peace to wash over him. His hands seemed so restless and I felt helpless in my ability to help him. So, while remaining curled up, I pulled the harp back to my shoulder and began to play and sing verses of “It is Well with My Soul” and “In the Garden.” And, then I saw them. His hands. The same hands that seemed so agitated and restless while I held them and talked to him, were now still and calm as I looked at them through the strings of my harp. I grabbed my iPad and quickly snapped a picture through my strings. I know that he can hear me when I play, but I wonder if he thinks about where this journey with the harp all started. It was twenty-seven years ago, when a musically challenged man asked his musically gifted granddaughter if she wanted to take harp lessons. And, yes, she did! ]

After reading my entries, I placed these two together, as they were pieces of a puzzle. Some may see them as “dark” pieces when standing alone, but when placed in the hands of the One putting the puzzle together, these pieces created something beautiful. A young girl, a grandfather who adored her and who invested in her future, a loving God full of redemption and grace, an instrument of peace, a hospital who allows volunteers to share their gifts with their patients. These are only a few of the pieces that make up my puzzle. I have nasty, dark pieces filled with sin and shame, and then I have pieces that are painted with grace and mercy. However, they are coming together to complete my puzzle. What do your pieces look like?

Pictures tell us many stories. Pictures record some of life’s greatest moments. Pictures record some of our biggest puzzle pieces. And, although I had looked through all of the pictures on my phone of images through my harp strings, I had completely forgotten about those that I had captured with iPad. And, words cannot explain the warmth my heart experienced when I ran across one I had a captured of my Dandi’s hands. I immediately thought of the pictures he had captured through my harp strings and now I had recorded a moment of peace and calmness in his hands through those same strings. Some may find it strange to hold a picture like this as such a treasure, but I see it as so much more. I see it has confirmation that the work God had begun through my grandfather, as a vessel to reach me, was now being clearly revealed to me. And, the best part about this whole plan is that it is not over and the investment my grandfather made in my gifts will be with me to share with others until God calls me home.

If we stay the course, as we walk in faith, and we hold tight to the promises that God makes, He will reveal His plan. But, He will only let us see what we He has prepared us to see. And, He knew that there would be a time when I would be prepared to sit beside my grandfather as he transitioned into Heaven. Preparations had been in place for this very time long before I even knew of a harp. The final pieces of my grandfather’s puzzle were being carefully placed by the Master’s hand, and I was watching them come together through the strings of my harp, and oh, how blessed I was by those strings. What some may have seen as a view of sorrow and sadness, I was able to see as a view of grace. A view of mercy. A view of peace. Of one resting in His peace.

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