Willem and I read a very special story together this week called, “The Man with the Violin.” It is based on the true story of Joshua Bell, a famous American violinist who decided to play a free concert in a metro station in Washington D.C. Surprisingly, only 7 people stopped to listen to him for at least a minute. Thousands hurriedly rushed by him to get to their next destination. As they rushed, they missed an extremely talented musician playing difficult, beautiful music. It said at the back of the book, that children often tried to stop and listen, but their parents pressed on to get to where they were going.
The book is from the perspective of a little boy who tries to get his mother to stop and listen to the music, but she doesn’t pay any attention. The boy notices the man with the violin and he is moved by the music, but the adult accompanying him, does not notice and does not stop to listen.
Willem and I had a bit of a discussion after we read the story where I explained to him that sometimes people rush too much and forget to stop and enjoy beautiful things. He asked why people do that. I told him that often we are busy and we feel the need to get to places quickly and rush around to get there. He bluntly replied, “like you do sometimes?” Yup. Like I do sometimes. Quite often, actually.
I told him that we all need to try to slow down and enjoy wonderful things like cuddling, reading together, and simply enjoying each others company.
For the past week, I’ve been reading and thinking about Mary and the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. One of the verses that jumped out at me is from Luke 2:15-20 (emphasis mine).
15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
There must have been some hustle and bustle because of the birth of Jesus, especially as more and more people heard the news. I’m sure Mary and Joseph received a fair amount of attention if people recognized who they were. But Mary took time to seize the moment and to soak it up. To watch closely and think deeply about the moments she was experiencing with her husband and her baby boy.
I can relate to this. There are many times when I just want to stop time and let the moment hold still so I can treasure them and remember them. Times when I’m holding my six year old boy, snuggled up to me close as I wonder how long I have before he doesn’t do it anymore. Times when I’m holding my baby girl to offer her comfort from a recent fall. Times when my 3 year old boy furrows his brow in concentration as he explains something to me. Times when my daughter and I giggle with hysterics about nothing at all. Times when my sweet baby boy snuggles close to me and pops his thumb in his mouth because I am a source of comfort to him. Times of laughter with my husband or when we pass a knowing glance at each other when our kids say something amusing.
I can’t stop time. But I can slow down, no stop, and pay attention to the beautiful moments.
If you are a parent, do you notice every time you stop and sit, the kids come rushing to you, clamoring on top of you with books in hand or begging you to do something special together? This can be a source of annoyance (all I want is a bit of break!), or it could be a time to take hold of the opportunity to snuggle, to breathe in their hair, to hold their little hands, to have a meaningful conversation or to just be with each other.
We all know the right answer to the question, “what is most important?” Most of us would say: family, faith, relationships, community. How often do we really put these things first? What else is filling our time and is it really more important than the people we love who crave our attention?
I want to be one of the 7 people who stop to listen. Who slows down enough to recognize talent and great musicianship. Who takes the time to treasure and ponder the beautiful moments.