Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Building People of Substance for Works of Power

Take a breath, Friend.

Yesterday I went shopping at a market I used to visit quite often, but when they stopped carrying my favorite yogurt, I quit shopping there. On this occasion I wanted some pumpernickel. Theirs is good, so I stopped in. Just to be certain that nothing had changed in the yogurt department, I checked the display. Still no joy. Oh, well. I entered the queue to check out. It was a long line. When it was finally my turn, the young man at the register remarked over his shoulder, “Did you find everything OK?” Aha! This is my chance to decry the absence of low-fat blueberry! I responded, “No, I didn’t!” Much to my chagrin, the young man never stopped scanning items nor did he look at me again. He had asked me a question, I had replied, but he was so distracted with his busy-ness that he never heard my answer. His question was not really a question, it was a hollow gesture, a kind of social reflex. He didn’t care about my yogurt, he cared about moving the line. (I heard him conversing with his manager about how well they had done with their sales targets that day, as he handed me my receipt and informed me I had saved 11 dollars. I wanted to tell him how much he had lost by not saying he was sorry about my yogurt.))

It occurred to me how often I get so caught up in the frenzy of life’s simulated necessities that I fail to pay attention to the people I am supposed to be helping. I say the right thing, I smile and nod, but I don’t actually listen for the response. Polite is not necessarily considerate. My mind rushes on to the next pressing task. I suspect I am not alone. I mean, after all, we are busy! The whole incident prompted me to take a moment to think of the opportunities for real connection that I miss every day because my attention is more on doing than being. I can’t remember what my wife said on the way out the door. I allow the panic of last minute minutiae to distract me from the grace of unhurried eye contact and compassion. There is a balance. There has to be. Stuff has to get done. But most of what consumes my attention will wait two minutes while I acknowledge the genuineness of the concerns of those God puts in my path.

Scripture Reading: "What’s the price of two or three pet canaries? Some loose change, right? But God never overlooks a single one. And he pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail–even numbering the hairs on your head! So don’t be intimidated by all this bully talk. You’re worth more than a million canaries. (Luke 12:6-7 MSG)

Somebody Said: It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about? Henry David Thoreau

Lord, help me remember to value others, not just in theory but in fact. Remind me just how insignificant are my significances. Give me grace to take a breath, a look, and a listen.

Virgil Stokes
FCF of Tucson
3141 W. Ironwood Hill Dr.
Tucson, AZ 85745
520-792-FCFT
http://www.fcftucson.org

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