N. T. Wright asks in one of his books, “What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve seen this week?” He suggests a few things, “beautiful music – perhaps in church . . . the sun breaking through the mist . . . the curl of a squirrel’s tail as he sat nibbling a nut.” He even points to the possibility of the most beautiful thing you’ve seen this week being an experience like an unexpected new opportunity or the blossoming of a new relationship.
Life is full of beauty, if we’ll train our eyes to see it. A couple of years ago, the Washington post ran an experiment in Washington D.C. They had Joshua Bell, a leading violinist, station himself in a Metro station and play the violin for passersby. Not just any violin, but a $3 million Stradivarius. Most of the thousands of people who entered the Metro that day walked right by taking no notice of this casually dressed man who, unbeknownst to them, had played to a sold out Boston Symphony Hall just three days prior. There the minimum tickets went for $100. Here in the subway, only a handful stopped and listened to the beauty in their midst.
One of the most basic acts of faith you and I can practice every day is the practice of noticing. For how shall we ever give thanks if we don’t first take time to stop and notice the endless gifts God grants us each day? The quiet of a morning. The smile of a stranger. The comfort of a nap. Getting in the habit of noticing opens our eyes to the many ways God is at work around us. It also prepares us for the possible places God might invite us as well. For when’s the last time you saw the kid behind the fast food counter for who he truly is, someone made in the very image of God? Not someone to be ignored but someone to be celebrated as a truly remarkable work of God’s hand? I know I spend most of my life walking right by. Lord, help me be a person who notices.
By the way, the most beautiful thing I’ve seen this week – not a sight but a sound. The sound of courage. As I dropped Sophie off on her third day of Kindergarten I said to her as we pulled into the circle drive at the school, “Alright, here we are.” I heard her take a deep breath, as if she was attempting to suck in all the boldness she could muster, and then say, “Alright, here I go.” And with that, she jumped out of the car and headed off to class.
So, what’s the most beautiful thing you’ve seen this week?
God has made everything beautiful its time – Ecclesiastes 3:11