Sunday, November 3, 2013

What We Need When Life is a Blurr

 Sometimes we move through life on autopilot seeing only what we expect to see. Then something holds our gaze long enough for our brains to tune in to the moment. Part of living fully in the present is to be more aware of our surroundings and grateful for unacknowledged gifts. I find that such an attentiveness helps me daily.

But I do not always do it well...


Was that you, Lord, in the lady with the purple coat?

She wore purple with a red cap shielding her from the rain. Robed in purple, topped with crimson: a royal image, I recalled.

She hobbled clutching her cane in her right hand, pushing a three-wheeled cart with her left, wobbling upright with each step, with her bag swinging as a pendulum from the elbow. She looked right at home leaving the bus station or making her way through an airport terminal but not here—not in my part of town. I waited at the light as she crossed.

We say we are mindful of your Presence among us, Lord, but are we really? We usually see what we expect to see while on our way to work on a busy morning.  Predictable routines leave little time for unexpected sightings of glory.

Then again, you show up at unexpected places. I heard myself ask aloud to no one present, “Was that you, Lord?”

She caught my eye, but did I stop to see if I could help? No. She was a stranger, and I was on my way to somewhere else.

Aren't we always on the way to somewhere else when you break through our day and beckon for our attention? We need you to make it clear, Lord, if we are to step aside and see a great sight. I have this rule, you see, a rule that I do not pick up strangers. I'm afraid of taking them into my car for some perfectly good reasons you would understand. But sometimes we need to set aside our closely-held rules, else we just go on about our business, living by our own rules--kind of like I just did today when I saw her brown skin glistening wet from the morning rain on her purple coat.

This mental conversation filled the space of a glimpse, just the time it takes for the light to glow red then green. But a glimpse is all we have sometimes, is it not?

 Just a brush with glory. 

A brief visitation. 

A few seconds should be enough when we walk closely enough with you to recognize when you have a task for us to relieve suffering, to lighten another's load. But we can be so encumbered with our own cares as I was this morning that we cannot see another's.

We may miss the message.

We may not see you when you show up at times and places we are not expecting.

And I was strongly impressed with the reminder to look for you in the faces of the hurting, the aged, the lonely, the foreigner among us. The glimpse turned me inside out. My little morning sadness about other concerns vanished in a breath--the breath that I took in as I asked aloud, “Was that you, Lord?"

You give us our next breath, and you take it away. You take it away with beauty, nature and music, and you take it away with pain. And in that split second when we inhale silently and take in the sight before us, you remind us you are present. God with us.

So, yes, perhaps that was you, Lord, not transfigured at all but mysteriously present in the realigning of my thoughts and the shuffling of my priorities so that I might see more fully those around me.

Later my friend told me of an auto accident near the highway. An ambulance’s blue lights held waiting cars at bay while an upturned cart sat spinning silently at the edge of the road. I wondered if I had seen her earlier, but I was on my way to somewhere else.

On the way to somewhere else: that’s where much of life happens.

 Lord, speak to our hearts. Interrupt our days of ordinary sights and sounds so that we do not miss an opportunity to serve.

To you O Lord, I lift my soul. Show me your paths and teach me to follow;
guide me by your truth and instruct me.
Psalm 25: 1, 4

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