For the next few Wednesdays in Lent, I’ll be talking about Jennifer Dukes Lee’s book “Love Idol,” which releases on April 1, 2014.
It’s evening. I’m sitting on the couch, reading “Love Idol.” It’s our first free night in a week. My husband is in Dallas. My daughter is sitting at the piano, playing “Amazing Grace.”
It’s been years since that hymn was played in my house in any form. It’s been two years since my daughter played piano at all.
She’s playing tonight because this weekend, she’ll be visiting a nursing home with my mother-in-law, and the director mentioned that the residents like to hear hymns. She looked through her old piano books and found a version of “Amazing Grace.” Gosh, she was a little kid the last time she played from “Piano Adventures 3A.”
“Are these the chords to the ‘Lord’s Prayer’? I’ve never really heard it,” she says.
“I don’t know, hon. I can’t read chords.” I try to sing it, but the version she’s talking about is totally out of my range. We sing a much more friendly version at St. Mary’s.
She gives up on my attempt to sing a song she doesn’t really know anyway.
I sit back down with “Love Idol.”
Then she moves on to a song she does know — “Jesus Loves Me.” She sings the words just fine, but the notes on the piano aren’t matching up. She looks more closely at the sheet of paper she printed off some random hymn site on the internet.
“These are guitar chords. They’re all wrong, Listen,” she says, “this is not ‘Jesus Loves Me.’”
“Not quite,” I say.
She starts to pick it out by ear — something I could never do in my piano days. Now I’m totally pretending to read Jennifer’s book, and I’m typing a version of what I’m writing now into my phone.
My daughter leaves the piano and goes to take a shower. I hear her singing but I’m not sure what. I turn back to “Love Idol,” to the chapter called “Preapproved” and read these words Jennifer wrote from seat 12A on a Delta flight: “And I am learning, and relearning, to open my eyes to this wonder — to open the shade even when it looks dark outside.”
It has been oh, so dark here in my house for oh, so long. It’s not quite as dark as it was, although it’s still not light enough to see. Kind of like Lent, which means “lengthening.” It feels like the light is gathering, waiting.
After her shower, my daughter goes to her room and then comes back out a few minutes later. She sits back down at the piano and plays “Jesus Loves Me” again. This time, she ends it with a little flair.