Title: Can You Hear the Music?
Date: For the Week of February 25, 2008
It was an experiment set up more than a year ago now by the Washington
Post. I don't know how I missed it, and most of you may have seen the online
video clip of the event already. (In case you haven't, you can get more
details and see what I am about to describe by clicking here.)
In what the paper dubbed "an experiment in context, perception and
priorities," the newspaper enlisted the aid of an internationally famous
virtuoso musician. Joshua Bell, who would shortly play to a
standing-room-only audience in the Washington area, played some of the
world's most beautiful classical music at a Metro station. As more than a
thousand people walked through, he played for just over 40 minutes. And
hardly anyone noticed or cared.
The violinist played Bach and Schubert. He played them on a Stradivarius for
which he had paid $3.5 million. With his violin case open before him and a
few bills tossed in to prime the pump, his 45-minute concert took in a total of
some $32 from a grand total of 27 donors. And that for a man who gets paid
at the rate of $1000 per minute to perform in packed symphony halls.
What are we to make of such an event? I'm not sure. Maybe it means too
many of us are too busy to notice people - their skills, their place in our world,
their value to God.
Maybe it underscores how poorly we assign value in life. Several people
walked by with their iPods on and never even turned their heads to the music
being played for them. At a level deeper than the aesthetic, money, sex, and
power trump just about everything - including virtue, self-discipline, and purity.
Perhaps it means that we humans are sometimes so self-absorbed that we
diminish others - in their own eyes. Bell said the experience made him terribly
uncomfortable. The man accustomed to standing ovations heard only
thunderous silence and shuffling feet as a piece came to its end.
For today, however, let me suggest this as a primary meaning for your
reflection: There is always more beauty in this world than most of us take the
time to appreciate. There are the manifold beauties of nature - sunrise and
sunset, falling snow and blooming flowers, majestic mountains and roaring
oceans; they are God's gifts for our appreciation, enjoyment, and stewardship.
Yes, there is music - classical, country, jazz, and rock. There is rest at the
end of a hard day's work. There is conversation between friends, playful time
spent with laughing children, and a walk with someone you know loves you.
Can You Hear the Music?