The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

“We Have Given Our Hearts Away”


April 17, 2007

In one of Jan Karon’s delightful “Mitford” books, the winsome Episcopal

priest Father Tim Cavanaugh shares with his dear old organist some lines

from the sonnet (1807) by Wordsworth:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;

Little we see in Nature that is ours;

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!

I admit it: the English major under my hat has always felt a bit (make

that, a lot) deficient with regard to poetry. I love Father Tim, but the

good rector is not only a far better pastor than am I, he has a far better

grasp on poetry! But if I understand Wordsworth’s lines at all, I think

he’s right on target.

The “world” is far too much “with us.”

“Getting and spending” occupy far too much of our precious time.

Forgetting that the real “bottom line” of our lives has nothing at all to

do with the bottom line of any balance sheet, we hurry and scurry and

worry our way through life, and barely pause to really “see” nature or,

for that matter, beauty of any kind, at all, and hardly notice that our

hearts are slowly becoming sadly atrophied from disuse.

Ah, but we produce!

Yes, but I’ve yet to see a balance sheet nailed to a tombstone.

Last week I read an interesting article from the Washington Post (“Pearls

Before Breakfast,” 4/8/07; it was on their web site) written by Gene

Weingarten who tried an interesting experiment with the invaluable aid of

Joshua Bell, arguably the best classical violinist in the world.

At 7:51 on a Friday morning, the 39-year-old Bell stood by a trash can at

the Metro subway stop at L’Enfant Plaza in Washington, D.C., and played

his violin for 43 minutes as a street musician. Tickets to hear this

“street musician” routinely fetch three figures. And, by the way, this

“street musician” was playing a $3.5 million Stradivarius violin.

The whole thing was videoed. As Joshua Bell played three of the most

beautiful violin pieces ever written, sixty-three people walked by before

one sort of slowed his pace. Before it was over, of the 1,097 people who

hurried by, 27 people, barely slowing down, threw $37.13 into his violin

case. Seven stopped for just a minute to listen, but there was never a

crowd. A few children wanted to stop, but their parents were far too


Many of those who get off the Metro at L’Enfant Plaza are government

workers rushing off to crunch numbers and catalog regulations. Bureaucrats

and bean counters rarely have time for beauty. But I’m afraid those of us

whose lives they complicate have exactly the same disease.

We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!


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