I was listening to a guest speaker in church yesterday. His topic was "service" and he was able to keep my attention with a polished speaking style. Much of what he had to convey was, of course, very familiar. He included the biblical passage from Matthew 25:40, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
He was driving home the point that serving one another is actually serving God. His train of thought and teaching was becoming all too familiar and I was beginning to fade out. But then he told the story of some men attempting to move a grand piano without equipment.
Some years ago in our meetinghouse in Darmstadt, Germany, a group of brethren was asked to move a grand piano from the chapel to the adjoining cultural hall, where it was needed for a musical event. None were professional movers, and the task of getting that gravity-friendly instrument through the chapel and into the cultural hall seemed nearly impossible. Everybody knew that this task required not only physical strength but also careful coordination. There were plenty of ideas, but not one could keep the piano balanced correctly. They repositioned the brethren by strength, height, and age over and over again—nothing worked.
As they stood around the piano, uncertain of what to do next, a good friend of mine, Brother Hanno Luschin, spoke up. He said, “Brethren, stand close together and lift where you stand.”
It seemed too simple. Nevertheless, each lifted where he stood, and the piano rose from the ground and moved into the cultural hall as if on its own power. That was the answer to the challenge. They merely needed to stand close together and lift where they stood." (Dieter F. Uchtdorf)
As my mind created and reviewed an imaginary filming of the event I was suddenly startled by something fresh that the speaker was saying.
"The synergy of standing shoulder-to-shoulder" . . . .
I missed the remainder of what he said as I scrambled to write down the phrase. The use of the words "shoulder-to-shoulder" caught me by surprise. Not only do I create greeting cards with that message in mind, I have been focused on the effect of spending shoulder-to-shoulder time with my husband. I have been considering that, whether our shoulder-to-shoulder time is spent accomplishing or sitting quietly, the effect is the same.
I had challenged myself to a little experiment the next time the opportunity presented. As my husband and I were walking through a shopping mall, side-by-side, I was chattering away. He was becoming increasingly snippy. I remembered that silence combined with shoulder-to-shoulder time could create a powerful synergy between us.
So I shut up.
It didn’t take long before he asked if everything was okay. Silence is not a normal state of being for me! I assured him that I was simply learning to enjoy silence.
Then he reached over and took my hand. After a few awkward yards and my silent focus on the journey, I discovered that my husband and I were walking in rhythm that is difficult for us.
Before we met, my husband had suffered a massive hemorrhagic left-side stroke leaving him with paralysis and weakness in the right side of his body. This drastically affects the way that he walks. His right leg is practically dragged and then tossed forward by a thrust of his hip. It is awkward, strained and stilted.
For the first time since his stroke, for the first time since we married, I was able to fall in line with his awkward gait and he became much less strained in his step. This was a big deal for me, something I had wanted since he and I had walked together for the first time.
As the speaker continued, I remembered the day and squeezed my husband's hand a little tighter as he sat beside me in the pew.Like the men standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the speaker's story, I had also experienced the wondrous effect of silent synergy.