Tag: Joshua Bell

Prepared for an unexpected moment of wonder?


It took two readings, but I finally got the message. Brian McLaren stated it firmly, “Whatever we’re focused on determines what we’ve missed.” I was reading for my own reason and almost became the point.

For a number of days, I have been focused on fundraising and finding income options. God, on the other hand, has pushed obstacles in the path, breaking my focus and getting my attention. So, I’m taking some time to meander a bit, to live without that driving focus. I want to fully experience everything God places in my path. I promise to live in the moment.

That means I need to practice being aware of people, their eyes, their words, their talents, and their cries. I don’t want to walk past something or someone that could be an invitation for wonder. This is especially true during the Christmas season, when everyone seems to be in a rush.

How about you? What have you missed so far? Ready to take in more than you miss?


It was a cold, rush hour morning in Washington DC, but for 45 minutes young Joshua played his violin just inside the L’Enfant Plaza Metro Station. He played songs that Bach had written hundreds of years ago while thousands of commuters hurried by.

During the 45 minutes only 6 people stopped and listened. Twenty or so gave him money and walked on. He almost made a dollar a minute for the music he played. When he finished, no one seemed to notice, no one applauded, and no one had recognized him.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston, the seats averaging $100.

All this happened on January 12, 2007; it was a test of sorts, set up by Washington Post writer Gene Weingarten. He had enlisted renowned violinist Joshua Bell to spend part of a morning playing incognito at the Metro station.

The listeners hurried by, unaware that the virtuoso was Joshua Bell and unaware that he was playing his handcrafted 1713 Stradivarius violin worth more than $3.5 million.

It was a telling experiment. If you commute on a subway you know that an occasional street performer is part of the cityscape: Do you stop and listen? Do you hurry past with a blend of guilt and irritation? Do you throw in a buck, just to be polite? Does your decision change if he’s really bad? What if he’s really good? Do you have time for beauty? Do you look for surprises?

The Washington Post won a Pulitzer in the feature writing category for Gene Weingarten’s April 2007 story about this experiment. This study reminds me that I have already missed more than I’ve taken in. I want that to stop, now.


Join me. Slow down this week. Open your eyes. Look for God to show up and invite you to an unexpected moment of wonder. It’s time to take in more than we miss, agreed?

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December 9, 2012 | 2 Comments More