Joshua Bell
A musician playing violin in a Washington DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. He played six Bach pieces for about 60 minutes.

During that time approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

After: 3 minutes: A middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes:  The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes:  A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes:  A three year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly, as the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced them to move on.

45 minutes:  The musician played. Only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32.

1 hour: He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

This is a real story. The Washington Post, as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities, arranged the entire scenario. Playing incognito, no one knew the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days prior to this, Joshua Bell sold out a theatre in Boston where the tickets averaged $100 per seat.

The questions were raised: In a common place environment at an inappropriate hour:

  • do we perceive beauty;
  • do we stop to appreciate it?
  • Do we recognize talent in such an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments …….How many other things are we missing?

Forwarded by Past Johan Putter.

My own questions are: Are we really in such a rush that nothing else matters?  What if the Lord Jesus would be standing at such a place and were calling us? Would we be able to hear His voice?  Would we gladly stop and listen and stay until He is finished?  I think the answer lies in the church attendance figures and the pressure from the congregations to have shorter services.  We miss the beauty and the glory of the Lord when we are in a hurry.  Jesus does not work according to our time schedules or limits.  Stop and listen and enjoy the beauty of sound in a song of praise which He has created for our benefit but also to His glory!

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1 Comment

CatchTheFire! · September 3, 2009 at 9:21 pm

We got so used to our own hurried schedules, so frustrated when somebody is driving to slow, angry when the traffic light stops us for a few seconds…with little or no time to appreciate the finer things in life. How often do you take the hose pipe to water the plants, smell the wet earth, feel the wind blow, hear the rustle of the leaves…how often do we slow down to hear the Master speak words of life?
Let’s stop, slow down, listen, feel, hear – He is all over, everywhere – He only wants a few minutes of your time to appreciate the value of His work in our lives.

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