The Stradivarius and Holy Ground

Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law one day when he saw a bush on fire. The story goes that he “turned aside to see.” He went over to it because it was strange that it did not seem to burn up. And he heard a voice, internally or externally, which spoke his name and said, “Take off your sandals because this is holy ground. I am God, the God of your father, grandfather, great grandfather, etc.” You get the picture. Hearing this story, you might say, “Well, I would stop for anything burning too. Not too long ago, I was driving and slowed down for a car crash, but I didn’t hear God speaking to me.”

Most of us live highly scheduled lives, moving at a lively pace. In fact, many brag about how busy they are as if it is a badge of honor. Where I last drew a paycheck, we said going to work there was like jumping on a fast-moving train. It took a week of vacation just to slow down and relax to stop thinking about work. I really think that we find it hard to “turn aside and see” in the rush of our daily lives. So, we might be missing out on sacred space and even, a message from the Source of Life.

As a Washington Post experiment, a Grammy-winning professional classical musician Joshua Bell played his four million-dollar Stradivarius violin one rush hour on a Washington DC Metro platform. He was dressed in regular street clothes, rather than a tuxedo. It was estimated that 1,100 people went through the station while he played six Bach pieces. No one appeared to recognize him or applauded. In fact, no one paused for long. Everyone was far too busy to stop. People were just too busy to appreciate the exquisite music which he played. Two days before this, Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100, but he only collected $32 in his violin case that afternoon. People did not turn aside to see. It makes you wonder, if people cannot stop for this quality of music, what else might they (or we) be missing?

The poet Lynn Ungar plays with Jesus’ advice to observe the lilies of the field that do not toil or spin, yet God looks after them. And King Solomon in all his glory was not clothed as beautifully as one of them. She writes,

“And you – what of your rushed
and useful life? Imagine setting it down –
papers, plans, appointments, everything –
leaving only a note: ‘Gone
to the fields to be lovely. Be back
when I’m through with blooming.'”
– Camas Lilies from “Blessing the Bread”

Isn’t that an appealing thought to simply step off the treadmill of your everyday routine? What would it take to recognize that you are on holy ground right now, where you are? Could you imagine that God, however you understand this Greater One, is present to you in the moment? Try it and see.