The word “Behold” is not one that we use regularly today, although it Is found 1,537 times in the bible. In Genesis 1:29 we read, “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed,” in Isaiah 7:14, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son,” in Luke 2:10, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people,” and in John 1:29, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.”
From context, we can assume the word “Behold” means “to look,” but it is actually much more than that. The dictionary defines “Behold” not only as to see, to view, to face, to watch, to consider, but also to look with attention, and to look at purposely.” In today’s very busy environment, how many of us really take time to look at anything with attention or purposely for very long, other than perhaps our iPhones? We are too often rushed, focused on the next task, or worried about the trials and tribulations of the moment (including the coronavirus) to be in awe of anything. To look with attention and to look at purposely requires time and it requires undistracted focus – unfortunately many of us, myself included, have forgotten how to do that.
Take, for example, the following experiment conducted in 2017. Joshua Bell, an acclaimed American violinist and conductor was asked to play six technically challenging Bach pieces on his multi-million dollar Stradivarius in a Washington, D.C. metro station. Thousands of people passed by in a rush on their way to work. Over a period of 45 minutes, 20 people dropped a few bills, totaling $32 in his case, but did not stop to listen; six people stopped briefly to listen; and of those six, most were small children who were eventually prodded along by their parents. Bell, who normally plays to sold-out audiences with $100+ ticket prices, was ignored, and the beauty of his music fell on deaf ears. What is the moral of this story? If we cannot stop for moment to listen to one of the word’s most accomplished musicians, what else are we missing? Moreover, what else is so much more important that we are making a priority?
During the weeks of Lent, when we are asked to slow down, reflect, and re-set our priorities, perhaps it is time to allow ourselves to truly “Behold” the simple beauties in this life that we are taking for granted. It is easy to get caught up in the struggles, but if we pause long enough to take in the glory, we might actually find ourselves in a more peaceful place.
P.S. Our children are better at this than we are.