Yesterday we took the kids to see The Piano Guys in concert. This was our family’s big Christmas present, and at the time, February 6th seemed SO far away. But it finally came and we excitedly went to the sold-out show with our tickets clenched tightly in our hands. Our seats were close enough that we could see their fingers on their instruments and see the broken strings of the cellist’s bow. Liv and Ike were wide-eyed, grinning ear to ear.
What happened instead, I think, is that our spirits were ignited there, in the concert hall, along with hundreds of other souls. I don’t think any of us expected to be moved while watching the show. But we were.
The Piano Guys, comprised of four, have two main front men: Jon Schmidt and Steve Nelson. For the first half of the show, they clowned around and showed off, even lying down on the piano bench and playing upside down. They joked about how they were “Mormon dads from Utah”, and laughed about how many kids they had and how uncool those kids thought they were. They were hilarious.
After intermission, however, it was a much different show. Steve talked about the trip they made to film a video at the famous Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. He shared that they were expecting the spiritual highlight of the trip to be when they played there, at the towering figure of Christ. They were all surprised to find that, while that was amazing, the real highlight actually happened when they went to Brasil’s famously powerful and majestic Iguazu Falls. He said, “The statue was man’s creation to show his love for God. The falls were God’s creation to show his love for us, His children.” He unapologetically shared this testimony, and then they played an amazing rendition of “Gabriel’s Oboe” (from the move The Mission) combined with the hymn “How Great Thou Art”, while showing video of breath-taking panoramic views of Brasil, the country where I served my mission. I felt the lump in my throat and I saw the tears streaming down Rick’s face. The whole time we’d been there, whenever they’d play a classical piece, the room was quiet. But the quiet that happened when they played this number was different. It was pin-drop quiet. It was spiritual quiet. It was light-your-soul-on-fire quiet. And I know that everyone there felt it.
I was so struck by these men. These Mormon dads from Utah. Here they were, in a sold-out concert hall in Boise, making their way through a North American tour, testifying of God. Unafraid to let the world know who they are and what they stand for. I wondered out loud to Rick what callings they might hold in their home wards.
At one point, the large screen behind them showed a quote by Ludwig Von Beethoven: “Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine.” I thought about how gifted these men are. I thought about how grateful I am for people who magnify and share their talents, forcing themselves into the secrets of their art, instead of hiding them under a bushel. I thought about how blessed we were to be able to be there that afternoon, and to be a part of something truly divine. And especially how blessed I felt to be there with my family.
When we got home, we did have the kids practice piano. And they weren’t instantly better than they were before we went to the concert. But we all came home with a little more fire inside us than we had earlier.
Since then, I’ve been thinking about my art. For The Piano Guys, it’s obvious that they are using their musical talents to bring men closer to the divine. But what is my art? Is it photography? Is it making jewelry? Or is it something deeper? Something more meaningful? What is my art? Can something as physical as a photograph or a piece of jewelry raise a person to the divine? Maybe it can. I know that I’ve seen photographs that have left me speechless. And a woman once told me that when she wears one of my jewelry creations, she feels more confident and happy. Surely that’s closer to the divine.
Maybe your art is music, photography, crafting, or knowing how to create a spreadsheet that totally alters the way things are done at work. Maybe your art is painting, putting life into pigment and onto canvas. Maybe it’s cutting intricate designs into paper or wood. Or maybe your art is lifting the hands that hang down. Or healing the broken heart. Maybe your art is building up what others have torn down. Or seeing the beautiful in something that no one else seems to see. Or knowing the exact words that can change someone’s day, or knowing when not to speak, but to embrace, instead.
Whatever your art, force your way into its secrets. And then, not only others, but you will be closer to the divine.