The Art of Living

You may remember when internationally acclaimed virtuoso Joshua Bell sat up camp at a DC’s L’Enfant Plaza Metro station? Bell performed six classical pieces as nearly 1,100 people passed by him. A handful of people paused. One lady stopped to really listen.She had heard him perform at the Library of Congress days before.  She understood the value of the man masterfully playing the  $3.5 million Strad at the Metro station on a busy Friday morning. But truth be told, the lottery machine drew far more interest than the musician.

Bell began his subway stop by playing “Chaconne” from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D Minor. He described it as “spiritually powerful piece, emotionally powerful, structurally perfect.”

What Bell didn’t say is that it is one of the hardest violin pieces to master. Here’s how the Washington Post described it: “Exhaustingly long — 14 minutes — and consists entirely of a single, succinct musical progression repeated in dozens of variations to create a dauntingly complex architecture of sound. Composed around 1720, on the eve of the European Enlightenment, it is said to be a celebration of the breadth of human possibility.”

Which brings me to what struck me about all of this. Almost everyone passed by Bell with barely a nod of gratitude. We are so quick to do that, brush by people in a hurry to get on with more important matters. Consequential life-changing tasks, right?

Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

We are in such a rush to swap and consume information and/or material goods that

We don’t even notice that person standing in our midst

Exhaling and inhaling.

We don’t understand how hard their lives may be

Or how hard they have worked at the Art of Living.

We don’t acknowledge them

Or the gifts they have to offer.

If only we understood their true value

We’d act differently. We’d treat them respectfully, with honor — the way a person who embodies the breath of God deserves be treated —

Wouldn’t we?

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  • Wow. Not only do I like this, but it’s also very similar to Billy Coffey’s latest post, down to the title (his is “The Art of Walking”). Both are about slowing down and enjoying.

    Coincidence? Is God using both of you to tell me something? Were you inspired by Billy?

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      I’m often inspired by Billy and his writing but this post came from a devotional I was doing earlier this week.

  • Stunning! Ah, Lord God, give us eyes to see.

  • Do you think this is an east coast phenomenon where people are too self-engaged to stop? I reckon if it was TX and a fiddle tune, there would be some 2-stepping at least. Oh, maybe that’s just how me and hubs are…

    Ya know, the last time I thanked an on-duty police officer for his service I started bawling. He stood patiently in the post office with me while I got it all out. I was taking the time to recognize him and it switched to him recognizing me.

    So many blessings are found when we slow down.

    • I live in TX, and we need to hear this as much as anyone. Maybe it’s a big town vs. small town thing.

  • Gloria

    This reminds me of a reading I use to do about the touch of a master’s hand. A violin was being auctioned and they couldn’t get five dollars until an old man in the back of the room shuffled forward and played it. The same violin then was auctioned for thousands. The reading went on to compare our lives with the old violin and what happens after our Master reaches down and touches us. Beautiful!

  • Sharon O

    If I hear this I know I would stop and listen… such a life challenge for us all.