When the Thought Counts

Think of the sounds that may emerge from an accordion when a non-musically-inclined beginner is working at it. Now, listen to it wail out the song “Count Your Blessings”—gasping in an off tempo that is struggling to keep in sync with people singing along.

You have just listened to my one-evening debut with the accordion. I’d like to be able to say that you just heard me practicing. But no, that awful rendition of “Count Your Blessings” was in public.

When I was a teenager, my family went every Tuesday evening to a local nursing home to hold a service as a ministry of our church. I loved the nursing home, and the residents loved our family. That hour was a highlight of the week for all of us.

Usually, my sister, Michele, played piano for the singing during the service. But when she was out of town one week, I had the idea that I could play her accordion. I could read notes, and I knew something of chord theory. This should be a cinch, right?

I spent all day laboring in practice. I even had a few songs down pretty well. Until…I tried playing with others singing along. That was the longest nursing home service of my life. And I wasn’t looking forward to our usual person-by-person greeting the residents after the service.

Funny thing, though—the residents who came to our service thanked me for playing. Those dear old ladies took my sweaty hands and looked at my bright red face and thanked me. (If you had been there, you would rather have expected them to confiscate the accordion instead.)

Maybe the accordion melodies had been a reminder—albeit a painful one—that they still had some hearing! Or maybe they were too deaf to know how badly it sounded. Probably, they just appreciated the effort.

Every time I remember that evening, I’m reminded of a group of loving, grateful people who truly appreciated—and expressed thanks for—a misshapen overture of kindness.

Sometimes it really is the thought that counts. And sometimes, it really is someone else expressing gratitude for that thought that encourages the soul.