In Washington, D.C., near a trash basket in the metro station, a ragged man played the violin. He wore jeans, a long-sleeved t-shirt, and a Washington Nationals’ baseball cap. Near his feet was a hat already filled with some starter money. He played for 45 minutes in hopes of making a few bucks.
More than a thousand people streamed by. Twnety-seven stopped just long enough to drop in $32. Maybe they wanted to encourage him. Maybe they just felt pity.
It’s a shame their eyes and ears weren’t better trained, or their hearts more expectant of what might happen on an otherwise average day. The man lovingly playing his $3,000,000 Stradivarius was none other than Joshua Bell. Three days earlier he had also played Mozart and Schubert, but then to a sold-out crowd in Boston’s Symphony Hall, where an average ticket went for $100, almost three times his take for the day.
It was an amazing event hosted by the Washington Post, “an experiment in context, perception, and priorities, as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste. In a banal setting, at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?”
We would have to say that on that ordinary day, it did not.
Which brings me to this otherwise ordinary day. What will we hear today? What will fill our eyes? If beauty shows up, will our hearts be ready to receive it? Will we even recognize it and slow down if only for a moment? What if God shows up?
In the movie, “Expelled,” there is an interview with Richard Dawkins. Mr. Dawkins makes a comment worth noting. He says, and this is a very rough quote, that if he were to die and discover there was a God he would ask him the question Bertrand Russell first formed, “Why did you remain so hidden?”
One wonders if God will reply, “I was there and plenty saw, stopped, and listened. Why did you walk by without a second glance?”
Yes, it is difficult to explain suffering in this world, all the places where Hell breaks through. Yet surely it is just as difficult to explain good in this world, all the places where Heaven breaks through. It is difficult to explain the devastation of an Oklahoma tornado or wildfires crackling on the Colorado wind, destroying homes. It is even more difficult to explain the incredible out-pouring of help and sacrifice from so many who could choose to remain untroubled. It is difficult, of course, unless there is a God.
When Yuri Gagarin, the first Soviet cosmonaut, returned from his trip to space, it is said he remarked that he didn’t see God in heaven. A Moscow-based priest responded, “If you have not seen him on earth, you will never see him in heaven.”
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” – Romans 1:20.
Rick Cupp is Minister of the Kenai Fellowship, Mile 8.5 Kenai Spur Highway, 283-7682. Sunday Bible Classes are at 10 a.m.; worship at 11:15 a.m. Wednesday meal is at 6:15 p.m. and Bible classes 7 p.m.