Stop Not Stopping


2838_view There was a popular email that went around recently.  It turns out that it’s true.  Here’s the link to the Washington Post Story.  Click HERE!  Warning, it’s LONG!  Or just read the highlights below.

A man sat at a Metro station in Washington, D.C. and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried on to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping, continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but 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. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 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. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but 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 before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the Metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour. Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

Is it just me or does this remind anyone of the story of Jesus?

Josh Bell–  One of the greatest musicians of our day plays one of the most complex pieces of music in history with a priceless instrument and people just walk on by without taking the time to stop and look at him.

Jesus- Greatness steps into the mundane, lives an amazing, perfect life, dies on a cross for our sins and people then and now just walk right by without taking the time to stop and look at Him.

Whether you believe Jesus is the only way to God or not, you should at least stop and take time to decide for yourself.

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me. (John 14:6, New Century Version)

We seem to do this with people as well.  We see people but miss the person.

Take time to find the amazing in the mundane, whether it be Jesus, a concert violinist in the metro or a friend that needs a kind word.


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2 Responses

  1. ‘Shawn…the amazing within the mundance’ and I mean that in a non-patronizing tone, mind you.
    ~you are a perfect example of the story depicted here (an ordinary person stopping to appreciate the awe and wonder of both the power of written word as inspiration/guidance, and the role of religion/Jesus/God in one’s life).

  2. thanks Beth, I’m trying. Sometimes it is easy and sometimes it seems to hide and I have to look for it. Then sometimes, like the above illustration, it’s right there in front of my face and I still don’t see it.

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