Growing up, I took piano lessons. It was a requirement of my parents. If they paid for the lessons I was going to practice.


My friends who took lessons had to practice 30 minutes per day. Of course, my parents required more. 45 minutes every day, minus Sunday for Sabbath. No exceptions.


In middle school, I became a latch-key kid.


I saw that as a true gift—time to talk on the phone, watch TV, etc. without my parents’ ever-present observation.


Andrea, did you practice your piano?”


“Yes, did it first thing.”


The problem with this came when it was time for my lesson.

Again, my parents weren’t okay with a simple “check” on the songs that I’d mastered for the week. They insisted that my teacher give me grades. Anything other than an A or A+ was not acceptable, as it meant I didn’t practice enough.


My way around this was to wait until the day of the lesson, rush in, and practice intensely for an hour, getting “just good enough” to get by and get that “A.”. This was not my best idea ever, but it paid off.


In high school my choral conductor asked me if I’d be the “official” accompanist for the chorus. “You are the best sightreader I’ve ever seen. Those skills are essential for what we need.”


From Friar Richard Rohr, ​​”Practice is an essential reset button that we must push many times before we can experience any genuine newness. Whether we’re aware of it or not, we are practicing all the time. When we operate by our habituated patterns, we strengthen certain neural pathways, which makes us, as the saying goes, “set in our ways.” But when we stop using old neural grooves, these pathways actually die off! Practice can literally create new responses and allow rigid ones to show themselves.


It’s strange that we’ve come to understand the importance of practice in sports, in most therapies, in any successful business, and in creative endeavors, but for some reason most of us do not see the need for it in the world of spirituality. Yet it’s probably more important there than in any other area. “New wine demands fresh skins or otherwise we lose both the wine and the container,” as Jesus said (see Mark 2:22; Luke 5:37–38). Practices, more than anything else, create a new container for us, one that will protect the new wine we wish to take in.”


My piano sightreading skills developed because they had to. They ended up paying off! But . . . Sometimes I wonder what could have happened to my piano “career” if I’d put in the work and practiced.


What practices do you have in your spiritual life that enable you to truly encounter the presence of God?


Grace and Peace,