This past Friday evening, my husband and I met at Union Station and headed out to dinner. We had a lovely walk that took us right by the White House, followed by a leisurely meal at a restaurant that has been in business since 1856. A nice way to start the weekend! Feeling happily sluggish from all the yummy food we’d consumed, we decided to pick up the Metro at the closest stop. Apparently half of DC had decided to do the same thing, as we stood with hundreds of people in the dimly lit station.
In the middle of the platform, bridging the east-bound and west-bound sides of the station, was a trio of men singing their hearts out. Now I’ve heard lots of subway performers, and they usually range from pretty darned awful to moderately okay. I do not exaggerate when I say that the voices of these three men were absolutely extraordinary. They sang a cappella, no musical accompaniment. But not once did someone hit a wrong note. The music they sang was recognizable– probably songs that you’ve whistled as you walked along– but the arrangements were complex, with their voices blending perfectly as each man’s notes swirled around, under, over the others’.
I was entranced. One train passed us by as we enjoyed their talent. I put money in the hat on the floor in front of the center man, and he grinned and nodded, never missing a beat. As I looked around, I noticed that most of the people near us were completely focused on their phones or tablets, shoulders rounded forward, cutting themselves off from the people around them, their backs to the trio. Others stood with arms crossed, staring into space. One small child danced to the beat, but his parents didn’t smile or even look in the direction of the singers. It was like they weren’t aware of the gift the men were offering.
How often does this happen to us each day? It is easy to be drawn so deeply into ourselves that we can miss the grandeur and beauty of the world outside of us. We can be so captivated by the difficulties and struggles of our lives, that we end up robbing ourselves of the gifts of healing and love that God offers to us.
Don’t let that happen to you this week! Instead, give yourself permission to experience the joy of your day. This is especially important if you’re having a tough time right now. Enjoy a conversation with a friend, or with a complete stranger. Savor a cup of coffee, truly tasting the drink instead of downing it as quickly as possible. Take a walk and look at the budding trees and flowers peeking up out of the ground. Listen to your favorite song, one that inspires you, that lifts you up. Dance with a child– or if there isn’t a child handy, just dance like a child. Read a chapter of a new book, write a poem, share a laugh. Watch the stars come out tonight, wake up for the sunrise tomorrow.
Life can be busy. Life can be difficult. But it is also so very, very beautiful. And it is always a gift. So… stop! And enjoy it.
What activities bring you joy in your life? How can you make those activities a regular part of your week?