Encountering the LordDecember 19, 2013 - 5:00 am
“So Moses thought, ‘I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.’ When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’ And Moses said, ‘Here I am.’”—Exodus 3:3–4
The Torah portion for this week is Shemot, which means “names,” from Exodus 1:1–6:1, and the Haftorah is from Isaiah 27:6–28:13; 29:22–23.
On a busy Friday morning in January, a man at a subway station in Washington, D.C., began to play the violin. He played six pieces for about 45 minutes. About 1,100 people passed by, but only a 3-year-old and six adults stopped to listen for a few moments. Everyone else rushed by. At the end of the session, the musician had earned $32.
Here’s what the commuters didn’t know: The violinist was one of the most talented musicians in the world. Joshua Bell had played one of the most intricate pieces ever composed on a violin worth $3.5 million. Several days earlier, Bell had played for an audience where the average ticket sold for $100. At the request of the Washington Post, Bell had agreed to be part of an experiment about perception and priorities. He would play exceptional music in a commonplace environment at a busy hour. The question was: Would people notice?
The results of the experiment suggest that no, most people would not. Blinded by the rigors of schedules and daily demands, people simply failed to see the beauty or hear the brilliance that resonated in the subway station on that busy Friday morning.
Which leads to another question: If people could miss such unmistakable talent right before their very eyes, what else are most of us missing in life? How much do we miss because we don’t have the time or the willingness to see and hear what’s around us?
In this week’s Torah portion, we read that Moses saw a bush that was on fire but not burning up. Thinking it was unusual, he decided to go over and see it. The Sages teach that Moses wasn’t the first person to come across the illogical and supernatural sight of a bush on fire that didn’t burn. But Moses was the first to take notice and check it out. As the verse tells us, it is only once the Lord saw Moses approach the bush that He communicated with Moses. Only then did Moses encounter God.
Life is busy and demanding. But we should never get so engrossed that we fail to see the beauty around us and the godliness in our midst. Do we encounter the Lord on the way to work? Do we find God in a baby’s laugh or in an older person’s eyes? Do we see God in a common place and at a busy time? The truth is, we are surrounded by God and beauty all the time. The question is, do we notice it?
Let’s take time this week to slow down and look around us. Because when we take the time to notice God, He takes the time to notice us, too.