Music in Rome Airport

Pianist - 1

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 …

My prayer

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?

Artistry of Love: Taj Mahal

“Love is patient, love is kind … rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails … But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.“ 1 Corinthians 13:4-13

Last week, Keith and I visited the Taj Mahal , one of the seven wonders of the world. Shah Jahan’s third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, died giving birth to their 14th child. To show his great love for Mumtaz, Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal as a memorial to her. Semi-precious and precious stones were used in the inlaid artwork, and as many as 1,000 elephants transported the marble and other materials during the 22 years of construction.

Shah Jahan undoubtedly showed Mumtaz his great love for her when she was alive. Her original name was Arjumand Bano Begum, and Shah Jahan christened her as Mumtaz Mahal, meaning the “Chosen One Of The Palace” or “Jewel of the Palace.”

Such great love memorialized in 1653, and almost 4 centuries later, 2-4 million people visit this structure each year. Perhaps they think about Shah Jahan’s great love for Mumtaz, take photos, smile, maybe kiss their loved ones, and then go home to tell their families and friends about the beautiful Taj Mahal. Perhaps a few think about the nature of love.

An artistic work dedicated to the dead.

What if that artistry, that costly sacrifice of all that is precious, and those years of construction were replicated in my marriage—while my husband is alive?

An artist is patient; he is kind to the materials he uses; an artist rejoices in beauty, bearing the burden of the weight of construction; the artist believes that beauty will be the outcome; the artist hopes that others will see the beauty; the artist endures tedious work.

God is our great artist, and He is working in our marriage to create a love that never fails. He takes the rough stones and polishes them. He carves the designs and inlays the stones. He inscribes His words, and dyes the letters, so that all can see.

What artistic form is your love taking?

My prayer for you:
Our great Creator, You have created a kaleidoscope of colors, a bouquet of fragrances, a blanket of textures, and a symphony of hope. Thank you for your great artistry. Take our marriages and create a masterpiece of love that never fails, and we will give You the glory forever.