Seeing What Is Right in Front of You
In his best-selling book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell tells the story of Julie Landsman and how she successfully auditioned for the role of principal French horn at the Metropolitan Opera of New York (known by many simply as “The Met”). It was the first year that there was a screen between the judges and the musicians who were auditioning for the orchestra. The decision had recently been made that the judges should pick the winner based solely on the sound of the music and not by the appearance of any musician. It all started when someone wondered if they were showing partiality based upon appearance, and maybe even allowing unknown prejudices to keep them from actually hearing the quality of the performance alone.
When the judges unanimously declared Julie Landsman the winner for the top spot for the French horn and she stepped out from behind the screen there was an audible gasp! They gasped in part because they were expecting a man. In fact, all of the judges thought they were listening to a man playing rather than Julie Landsman. At the time, there were no women in the brass section of the orchestra, because everyone “knew” that women could not play the horn as well as men…. and female horn players were rare.
However, there was another reason why the judges gasped. It wasn’t just because Julie was a woman. It was also because they knew her! She had played for The Met before as a substitute, and it became apparent that they never heard how great she actually was because she was a woman. Until they listened to her with just their ears, they had no idea she was that good. As Gladwell describes it, the screen created a pure Blink moment, and a small miracle happened: they saw her for who she truly was…and they heard her for her expertise and talent for the very first time.
When I read this story, I had to wonder how often I may not see something right in front of my face or how often I may not hear something that is actually loud and clear simply because of prejudices, presuppositions or expectations. On Sunday, we took a look at some of those things that get in our way of seeing and hearing clearly. As we took a look at some of Moses’ final words to the people of Israel, it became apparent that Moses provided a Blink moment for them when he told them that God was not up in heaven or on the other side of the ocean, but right in front of them and inside of them; and because God was right there, the people could do things such as love God, walk in God’s ways and choose life!
During this difficult summer of mass shootings in the U.S., I imagine how things might change for us if we actually come to realize that God is right here in our midst…and within us…and within each and every person…and because of these things we open ourselves up to loving God, walking in God’s ways and always choosing life.
Whatever it is that gets in your way of seeing clearly, I invite you to be open to the possibility of Blink moments in your life: moments when you see something clearly for the first time.
Kahu Alan Akana
“A Message from Kahu Alan Akana” is provided most weeks by the Kahu (Pastor) of Koloa Union Church, a congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC), a member of the Kauai Association and Hawaii Conference.
Join us at 10:30 on Sunday mornings at 3289 Poipu Road in Koloa to hear a full sermon by Kahu Akana.