I had one of the more pleasant experiences of life the other day. Two friends and I were on a day trip to DC and were between trains on the DC Metro subway platform. It was around the end of the work day, so the platform was crowded with people leaving their jobs, heading home with hearts and minds full of the days activities, both their triumphs and struggles.
Over the dull murmur of muted subway platform conversation, I began to hear the echoes of a quartet. Maybe I picked up on it first because I sang in a quartet for 3 years in college, but it was unmistakable. Four African-American gentleman--all in their late 40's and early 50's--were standing in close proximity mixing tight harmony into the air of the day's burdens and blessings.
And they were good. Really, really good.
Without really thinking about it, the thought crossed my mind "I'll gladly pay a $1 for that kind of joy being added to my day." So I got out my wallet and walked to their begging basket and dropped in my dollar. I don't know if my physical token of appreciation was some sort of necessary catalyst, but something happened.
To say that the mood on the platform was transformed into something glorious and sublime is an understatement. A kind of gentleness and peace swept the place. Body tensions relaxed, smiles began to appear, genuine appreciation wafted through the air. It was a moment of sheer grace. Almost in unison, people began reaching for their wallets. They were responding to grace, and I'm sure the guys made a killing.
From my perspective, I don't know what makes those moments happen, but I know that grace is the Great Reality, existing before and beyond all of our activities and plans and dreams and burdens and struggles. And for whatever reason, that Great Reality became visible for a short while on a subway platform following a long day in the most powerful city in the world.