Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 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 later:
The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.
A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.
A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but 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 their children to move on quickly.
The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.
He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.
No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, Grammy-award winner and one of the greatest musicians in the world who has performed with almost all of the world’s major orchestras and conductors. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.
This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized and videotaped by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities.
The experiment raised all kinds of questions for the reporter who wrote about it, but for me it reminded me of how often God gives us beauty, music, and His special people all around us and we miss it.
With so much the bad news everywhere we turn, I challenge you today to look for God. Look for beauty in everyday places – the sunset, the clouds, the sparkly water droplets left by the sprinklers. Look for light and love in the faces of those you care about, in the warm tail-wagging greeting of your family dog. Listen for music — in the voices of people, a song on the radio, a bird chirping. Don’t miss what God has provided for you today – even in the Metro station.
Watching for God,