The delicate and melodic sounds could be heard as I ventured past Bath Abbey and towards the small square where the busker sat. The music was ushering me in. Entering the square, it was clear not only my ears had been drawn in. On the benches that bordered the square, within which the busker played, people sat and soaked in the soothing sounds that filled the afternoon air. Others sat against the walls of the Abbey; others simply walking, going from a to b, some of whom their pace reduced to a ponder by the gentle interruption of the music.
For a minute or five or thirty, the sounds from this gifted and sensitive artist captured the hearts and minds of shopper, tourist, worker and wanderer alike: stilling rushed minds; accompanying lunchtime reading; occupying observing eyes; serving conversation.
The artist plays and the people gather.
I raised a contented smile as the timeless sound of a certain short but very sweet song began to filter from the centre of the square: ‘Yes, I think to myself, what a wonderful world.’ Moments like this truly are wonderful. Little wonder the people gather.
It made me think of God.
Orchestrator of evening’s rest and morning’s fresh hope. Painter of far-away planets and galaxies. Creator of each magnificent star. Separator of the water’s deep and the sky’s expanse. Designer of hill and flower and rock and desert. Composer of life that crawls and swims and flys and runs. Handmade and thoughtful author of every man and woman. Originator of sound and colour. Begetter of Jesus – the embodiment of perfect love and amazing grace – through whom beauty rises from the ashes and life to its fullest from death. Intricately, magnificently and personally, the Artist works radical and undeserving grace into the fragility, hiddeness and depth of a beloved people. ‘Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.’
The Artist plays and the people gather.
To receive, to learn, to know, to adore, to praise, to give, to serve, to bow, to be with – for this and more, the people gather. Oftentimes at Bath Abbey, the fitting backdrop for my meandering thoughts, where a nearby sign declares: ‘Where Heaven and Earth Meet.’ The Artist does not need a grand building to play and bring heaven to earth – in fact, the Artist plays most excellently in the dust and dirt of our lives – but it does provide a good place to gather. The Artist is playing all around us and people all over the world are gathering. They cannot but gather. If more would tune their ear to hear that most pleasing, unrivalled and lovely of sounds, then like a conglomerate of tourist, shopper, worker and wanderer naturally forming around the artistic skill and heart of a Bath busker, many others could not but gather. The Artist is that good.
On a wooden bench, walking the square or sat up against the Abbey walls, there is room for us all.