Violin: Guest Post from Jacob Courtney

7:18am the subway station was crowded with people ready to make their morning commute to their DC area jobs. The lawyers and politicians and schoolteachers and businessmen had been reduced to the status of herded cattle as they pushed and shoved their way past one another on the congested platform.

7:24am A man in the corner of the station opens a violin case as no one really takes notice. Another street performer. 7:26am After rosining his bow, two notes are played in unison as he tunes his old violin.

7:27am A whirlwind of notes burst vibrantly forth from the violin and quickly crash into the sound of footsteps and loud murmurings of “excuse me” and “move” as the music meshes with the passer-bys like waves crashing into the side of a cliff.

7:42am The violin case lays open at the street performers feet welcoming any tips as his music goes forward. He has made $8.17 so far.

7:53am A young child stops momentarily to listen to the street performer as her mother quickly prods her along trying to get her to school on time.

8:01am A businessman on a cell phone trips over the sprawled violin case spilling the street performers $13.78 everywhere. The businessman looks over his shoulder and scowls as the performer continues to play.

8:09am A climatic flurry of notes spill from the violin filling the subway station with more liveliness and vigor than was contained by the entire 2,000 people that passed by this morning.

8:12am The music ends with a single note hanging sweetly in the air and the street performer takes his final bow to an audience of none.

8:15am The door to the subway station closes behind Joshua Bell, the street performer who had been playing one of the most complex Bach concertos on a $3.5 million Stradivarius violin in one of the busiest subway stations in Washington DC. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged over $100 a seat to sit and listen to him play the same music.

 

Let me tell you another story.

4:34pm The house is filled with a hushed energy as two ladies franticly rush to finish any last minute cleaning before the guests arrive.

4:58pm The first of the guests arrive just a few minutes early. One of the ladies greets them at the door trying to appear calm and welcoming though distracted by the endless checklists of things to do before the party that she is reading over in her mind.

5:18pm The noise in the house is increasing as pockets of friends congregate in small groups through out the house to greet one another and break off into various conversations about business, sports, and getting caught up on the newest additions to one another’s families.

5:27pm The last of the guests arrive apologizing at the door for their tardiness. One of the hostess’ welcomes them in. 5:53pm One of the ladies is in the kitchen finishing up any last touches to the meal while the other mingles around the living room offering to top off any glasses of wine that are beginning to run low as the cacophony of conversations grows.

6:07pm The guests begin to gather together around one man, as they are all mesmerized by his stories. He is clearly the life of the party. The guests try to be respectful of one another while slyly elbowing each other out of the way to get closer to this man. 6:19pm The woman in the kitchen is growing frustrated that she has been left to do the last minute food preparations herself as she peeks out the door to see the other hostess sitting next to the man who is the life of the party.

6:24pm The woman in the kitchen has had enough and marches out to the man in the center of the room and complains to him and everyone that the other hostess has left her alone to finish preparing the dinner. “Martha, Martha” the Lord replies, “You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

How many times have we been in the presence of something beautiful and not seen it because we weren’t looking? How many times has God been right in front of us as we walked by or busied ourselves with our to-do lists? Oh God, open our eyes that we may see the works of your hands surrounding us. Forgive us for taking for granted the divine beauty of your creation. We know that you create beauty all around. From mountains and oceans and flowers, to new born babies and restored relationships and lives mended back together. You make all things new. Slow us down. Open the eyes of our heart so that we may see you. Amen.                   Jacob Courtney

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