The lone violinist played for 45 minutes, putting his soul into his music in hopes of making a few bucks. He was standing near a trash basket in the Washington, D.C., Metro station wearing jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals' baseball cap, with another hat at his feet already filled with some starter money.
More than 1,000 people streamed by. Twenty-seven stopped just long enough to drop in a total of $32. Maybe they heard something in the man worth encouraging. Maybe they just felt sorry for him.
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 million 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 one ordinary ticket went for $100, more than three times his take for this day.
It was an experiment 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 see today? What will fill our ears? If beauty shows up, will our hearts be ready to receive? What if God shows up?
I recently was able to see the not yet released movie, "Expelled," which had an interview with Richard Dawkins in which he asks a tough question. 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. Where were you looking?"
If it is difficult to explain suffering in this world, all the places where hell breaks through, 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 a hurricane ripping through New Orleans. It is even more difficult to explain the incredible outpouring of help and sacrifice from so many who could choose to remain untroubled. Unless, of course, there is a God.
When Yuri Gagarin, the first Soviet cosmonaut, returned from his trip to space, he is said to have 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."
In Romans 1:20, we read: "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."
Rick Cupp is a minister at the Kenai Fellowship, Mile 8.5 of the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai. He can be reached at 283-7682, or online at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Services are Sundays at 11:15 a.m. and Wednesdays at 7 p.m. Bible classes for all ages are Sundays at 10 a.m. and Wednesdays at 7 p.m.
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