In 2007, the world-class violinist Joshua Bell, played for tips in a Washington, D.C. subway during the rush hour. He was curious if anyone would notice the quality of his performance. People walked by him, rushing off to their destinations.
In 2014, he showed up at Washington, D.C.’s Union Station with young musicians, this time, to a packed crowd awaiting the performance. No rushing this time.
History, art, religion, and music permeate the Italian atmosphere–ready to delight those who will stop to notice. Recently, Keith and I were waiting at Fiumicino Airport in Rome, Italy to return home.
I noticed a beautiful grand piano roped off on three sides in the middle of the terminal. A young man was sitting close by focused on his cell phone.
A woman noticed the piano and sat down. She began playing a classical piece from memory. For about 20 minutes, I watched the man focused on his cell phone. I watched travelers talk, look around, and rush past the pianist. I watched the group I was with continue to talk, laugh, and text.
I watched this young woman completely absorbed in her music.
I listened. I shared her creation with her. I enjoyed.
She ended elegantly. I walked over to her and clapped. I thought someone else would join me in clapping. No one joined me. She looked up, smiled, stood, fingers still on the piano keys, and smiled again. I clapped again. She took a few steps, turned and smiled again. I continued to clap.
In the to-and-fro of this busy international airport, the two of us shared the joy of her music and the exchange of smiles that summed up the delight of shared moments.
Ears to hear
Repeatedly, Jesus urged His followers to hear Him, “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.” Vine’s Dictionary indicates that the word for “ear,” οὖς, means the “faculty of perceiving with the mind … understanding and knowing.”
His followers were listening to Him. But Jesus was asking them to stop and really listen to Him, to absorb His truth, and to follow His instruction.
T.S. Eliot wrote about experiencing a moment but missing the meaning. He wrote about the music hanging silently in the air.
God has instructed His children to meditate upon His Word, His precepts, His works. That takes time.
This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Joshua 1:8
I will ponder all your work,
and meditate on your mighty deeds. Psalm 77:12
I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all that you have done;
I ponder the work of your hands. Psalm 143:5
What if we were to stop when we see the heavens declaring the glory of God and meditate on God’s artistry?
What if we were to stop and meditate on one verse of Scripture throughout the day?
What if we were to stop and admire a painting or a melody, and really ponder its meaning, absorb its beauty?
What if we were to stop and really listen to another person?
What if …
Father, make me sensitive to the moments when I need to stop rushing and absorb the meaning of a moment. Creator of the Universe, You have created a world filled with beauty, and it all points to Your magnificent glory. Stop me in my tracks and show me Your glory. I love You, LORD!
What’s your prayer?