Strangers and Pianos

August 30, 2012
Brandi Friesen Thorpe |

I believe that one of the great joys in life is meeting strangers. Sometimes strangers are kindred spirits. Sometimes strangers are a window from a world you don’t understand, but get to glimpse into, just for a moment. Sometimes they are shadows of who you were, and again other times they are glimpses of who you want to be.

Let me tell you the story of one stranger in particular that I met early this month in Waterloo, Ontario.

This story begins with a search for a piano. My husband Nate and I have a love of adventure, small or large. One particularly sunny Saturday we went out in search of a one of the infamous street pianos. Have you heard of the project? Hundreds of pianos have been turned into art projects and placed in public places for people walking by to enjoy. Its a project that can be found all around the world at this point.( We happened to find out there was one in Waterloo (it wasn’t the official website map, might I add!) --- being music lovers and piano players, we couldn’t resist such a treat.

We found the piano in Waterloo Town Square, and like all street piano’s, it was spray painted with the words “Play me, I’m yours”. Sitting down it was found to make acceptable noise, and we began to play an improvised duet of sorts. As we did we attracted attention of some of those passing by.

And then we caught the attention of Gary. You could say that he had... the certain aroma of one who was occasionally homeless. He sat down near by began requesting songs and making small chat about services provided in the city. After a moment he was quiet. Then he thundered out a loud statement, unsolicited, and unprecedented.


Now, Gary wasn’t a hint of drunk, nor was he intoxicated in any other way. He also wasn’t trying to preach to us or make us converts. He simply acknowledged what his city needed and boldly shared it with the strangers playing the piano in the town square. Strange? No, I think it’s something that we as christians should try doing a little more often.

Gary ended telling us some of his story, of how he followed God when he was young, fell away when He was older, and so on. He seemed to reveal that he was on his way back to what he, and his city, needed --- “more Jesus”

The comment stuck with me, provoked my curiosity. It poked me until I let my thoughts unravel around it. When was the last time I declared that, and to a stranger no less? Did I ever let anyone know that my dwelling place needed more Jesus? Why was it that a man who seemingly had been homeless, no constant comforts in life, could be bolder in what he believed than we who have had so much? Why is it we don’t say that to people? To each other? It was something to think about.

Needless to say, I was thankful for that piano. It gave me a reason to meet Gary, a reminder to be bolder, and to declare more often: my city needs more Jesus.

Check out to see if there is a street piano in your city --- Who knows, maybe you’ll meet a stranger and have your own story to share. If you do, leave a comment here to let me know, or send me an email.

Stories are worth sharing. Take a page from Gary’s book, and share yours.
Until next time
- Brandi J. Thorpe.

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