Would We recognize God If We Met Him?

2007, in a Washington D.C. metro station, an unknown man played Bach on his violin for forty five minutes. People hurriedly passed him by with little notice. Two days previous to this social experiment, conducted by the Washington Post, this same violinist played before a sold out house at $100 per seat in Boston. On this day, he was playing one of the most intricate pieces of music ever written on a three and a half million dollar violin, but, no one paid any attention to Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world today.

I like good music and I would like to think that on that day, I would have been the exception; That I would have stopped and listened, but I too, probably would not have recognized what I was hearing. Recognition is an ambiguous thing. It alters the perception of our world. I suspect that had Joshua's appearance been publicized or had he been recognized, the atmosphere at the metro center would have been quiet different.

It makes me wonder, however, if God is really so hard to find today or if we simply fail to recognize Him when confronted with His music. Are we so enslaved by the tune we follow that we can not hear His music? Is our direction so unalterable that our destination refuses interruption?

There are certainly those, who had they been there on that day, would have heard the music; Would have recognized what they were hearing. There are those that would certainly have measured the music differently than those who hurried by. I wonder of those who might have stopped and listened? Could they then adequately convey, what they had heard to the rest of us, or was there need, by we ourselves, to hear Joshua Bell in person?

There are today, perhaps, people who hear music that some of us have yet to hear. Perhaps they hurry less or perhaps, some of us have just decided that we don't like Bach or violins. Whatever the answer, just because He might be there is no assurance that we will recognize Him or that we will recognize His music. Perhaps, wherever I am going, leaves no room for His intended interruption. Perhaps, good music is so distant from what I am accustomed too, that all I can do, is hurry by, in route only, to whatever I have decided to have ears for.

It wasn't Joshua Bell who was at fault that day. He did all he could to captivate the crowd, to introduce himself to their hurried lives, but it proved insufficient. Perhaps we are surrounded by music we do not hear. Perhaps our moments are already filled with destination and have no room for interruption. What ever the case, the fact remains, Joshua Bell was there that day, he played Bach on a three and a half million dollar violin, Then he left and no one knew he had played.

Comments 21 comments

Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 5 years ago from South Carolina

I loved the poetic style of your prose and the unique way you approached your topic. Would we recognize God himself if he were in our midst playing the most beautiful music, or would we rush on by not taking a moments notice?


arb profile image

arb 5 years ago from oregon Author

Hi there! Can't believe that i forgot to respond to your comment. The privilege of senility, I suppose. Thank you for taking the time to read and for the kind comments. Sometimes I wonder if we recognise the people we are having dinner with! Be well


dswan9 profile image

dswan9 5 years ago from Amsterdam and London

the people are just busy on their way to work, too many distractions, not enough time. I don't doubt they would have appreciated the music on a different day so it seems an unfair experiment to judge people on.

If God revealed itself would it be as a violin concerto ? for some yes, for some no. I believe God reveals itself in any number of ways and all sounds and sights can be an expression of God but like those people we are just too busy hear those sounds and sights, too distracted.

A thought provoking hub.thanks


arb profile image

arb 5 years ago from oregon Author

dswan9, thanks for reading and for the thoughtful reply. be well


bluebird profile image

bluebird 5 years ago

Good hub to make us stop and think a bit. This part:

"There are today, perhaps, people who hear a music that some of us have yet to hear. Perhaps they hurry less or perhaps, some of us just don't like Bach or violins. Whatever the answer, just because He might be there is no assurance that I will recognize Him or that I will know His music"

I agree with this totally - many are they who can only see physically and then there are some who can see both physically and spiritually so to have a deeper perception of God and recognition where He is working and what He is doing. It is a great advantage for anyone to be open-minded, no one wants or likes to be hoodwinked.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Well written Hub illustrating how much "busyness" and "getting there quickly" rule so much of our lives, drowning out he things we would do well to notice. And as you asked, how often do we not see Him or recognize His Hand because we are not paying attention to the important things.

You ask cogent and penetrating questions, but do so in a manner that does not accuse or threaten. You invite the reader to come along with you as the ideas develop and blossom. I am touched and impressed. You have a gift for this kind of essay. SHARING


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

Hi arb, have you seen the videos of this? The children wanted to stop and listen--it says a lot!


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Hi Audrey! I have not. Did not know that it existed. I will web search today and may have to add a postscript to this hub. Thanks so much Audrey. BTW I am happy that you have read something other than my popetry. How very special.


ata1515 profile image

ata1515 4 years ago from Buffalo, New York.

Interesting thoughts here. Voted up and shared!


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

Give it a look see on youtube. I saw the video when the story was aired on 60 minutes i think--


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

ata, thanks, both for visiting and for sharing. Be well


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

phdast7, Thank you for appreciating a labor, which as you noticed, ask without intimidating the reader. I must come by, so much attention to writing, deserves a like return.


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

I will do thats. Thanks again Audrey.


CMerritt profile image

CMerritt 4 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

Hi arb,

Very thought provoking!


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Hi CMerritt! Had numerous reads on this hub today. Strange, haven't had on in a year. Anyway, thanks for reading and the comment


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

It's an interesting video. I just watched and heard it. I've mixed emotions about it. It's a 'setup' in a situation almost guaranteed not to cause or even allow people to stop and appreciate what they could be hearing, at a time of day when they aren't free to deviate from their schedules. Few of us are free enough - though I can say that at my age and stage in life, I do have the freedom to choose. I'm not sure - if by some odd chance I were to be in that exact setting - that I'd really find even a safe place to 'land' and just listen. Looks like one could be trampled or - maybe arrested for loitering. Probably the only way I'd be hearing Bach there would be in my own mind and memory. Perhaps that's how it is with one's awareness of God. After all, where is He NOT? To be aware of his presence is to keep it in ones' mind and memory. I kind of like to think I do see him in many 'disguises' - wherever there is kindness, goodness, creativity, and all those slightly higher examples in everyday life. Even more, perhaps each person should be aware of his or her own presentation of the 'music'.

But it was an interesting experiment the Post did. I saw a similar one a few years ago in which a whole group of musicians (maybe from the Metropolitan Opera? Anyone recall?) mingled with Christmas shoppers in a mall and suddenly burst out with a performance, each dressed casually and sprinkled around among the crowd. Some of those shoppers didn't really pay attention either.

Glad people rediscovered this one, Alan. I'm not sure how I missed it when first published. But glad to find it now! It's 2:36PM CT Monday the 14th. Wonder how long it will take for this comment to post? haha. Hugs.


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Hi Audrey, I found the video Of Joshua. Thank you. It may have been set up, as Nellieanna suspects or, perhaps not. I remember being in resturant once where the atmosphere took a sudden and noticeable change, when It came to light, that the gentleman at the corner table was George Clooney. Tke knowledge of what we see, does alter our response to what we see, I think.

I did not see the children in the video, but, the piece posted on television may have picked up on it. The innocence which clothes the children would leave the matter of "who was playing the music" to others and turn instead to, "the music". Thanks again.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 4 years ago from America

Interesting hub and enjoyed reading it. I'm sure I would have walked by him. It's not like me to stop and look at people no matter what they're doing at least not when it comes to playing music in a crowded area. I would have glanced and smiled. I would hope that I would notice a child being kid napped or a dog being mistreated.


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Thank you Moonlake. I hope you would to.


SilverGenes 4 years ago

You bring out some very important points in this article about our perceptions, quick judgments, and decisions based on both. Perhaps there is no fault at all, just another missed opportunity on an otherwise average day. Perhaps we do indeed consistently "fail to recognize Him" in our perpetual hurry toward ... what exactly? Something few of us can define.


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Hi Alexandra. Thank you for reading. There is a verse which says simply, "Be still and know that I am God". It is difficult to see through the hurry.

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