Last night, our newly renovated local community theater hosted a combined orchestra and wind ensemble and opened the performance free to the public. This was an extraordinary cultural treat for our little town. We wanted our boys to experience it–(plus selfishly desired a break from all the ballgames they are immersed in!) They were enamored by the variety of instruments, inspired by the melodies of John Phillip Sousa and full of questions about the tiny girl playing the giant harp 3 times her size on stage left.
I love that feeling of being swept up in something beautiful. Several pieces had an alluring quality embedded in the melody. As a musician, I’m amazed at the infinite combination of chord structures that can create an emotional response of “hold on, something even better is about to happen.” But something occurred that kept jerking me out of this euphoria…
2 rows in front of me, a young man–probably college age–was playing Mortal Kombat on his Samsung Galaxy phone. There was no effort to be subtle with it…in fact, it was as if he hoped the entire audience might join him! Held high, inches away from his face, the flickering glow of gunfire and explosions lit my view of the stage. And it went on and on. Even my boys were astounded. At least he had turned the volume off.
Held high, inches away from his face, the flickering glow of gunfire and explosions lit my view of the stage.
I wondered who he was? Perhaps a son or boyfriend of someone in the orchestra? Maybe a kid from a local college receiving some extra credit for attending? Regardless, in the midst of what I perceived as rudeness, I remembered a few lines from Elizabeth Barrett-Browning:
“Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round and pluck blackberries, And daub their natural faces unaware.”
I sort of felt sad for him. Whether he didn’t want to be there or thought he was accomplishing 2 things at once, he was missing it. He wasn’t present. He was trading a holy moment for berries.
Yet as is His custom, the Lord turned my critical spirit back on me. How often do I do the same thing…multitasking my physical presence while my mind works out a dozen other projects? I think this is what Jesus meant when he said “with the measure you use, it will be measured unto you.”
Lord, help us realize the richness of your presence today in the midst of a doctor’s appointment, lunch with our family, our children’s homework, yard work, grocery shopping, a conversation with a neighbor, practicing an instrument and folding laundry.
May we never, ever be satisfied with blackberries.