The Time is Now!
I was in a hurry the day I stopped in my local library. I went to the bookshelf with the hold and got my book that had come in but then, I saw a nonfiction shelf and thought I perhaps had time to quickly peruse to see if any new titles had arrived. It was then I spotted a book that someone had taken off the shelf and then haphazardly placed on another.
In a hurry I registered that the book was a religious title and then saw the author’s name. “Wait,” I thought. “This has to be a mistake. That or someone had a warped sense of humor. Why would someone use a pseudonym of a location popular in religious stories of many religions?” Habits die hard and as a former librarian, I quickly went to reshelf the book correctly. Again, though I stopped. “Catchy pseudonym,” I realized. “It caught my eye for sure and now I am holding this book which is, of course, the goal of any author. That pseudonym made me pick up the book.”
Curious I decided to just check the book out since I really was on a time crunch. Fortunately the library had a self-checkout machine and I was quickly on my way. Later, like two days later, I remembered my happenchance checkout and picked the book up…again. Apparently the author’s real given name was that location that I thought to be a practical and clever joke. Then I realized the book was of a subject I was particularly interested in and I began to read it.
My accidental checkout led me to a wonderful read and I not only read the book, I purchased it online. It now holds a spot of honor on my overloaded bookcases and I even had a book club read it. The book is not the typical nonfiction how-to manual nor is it even one that claims to have all the answers. It is a diary of sorts about one woman’s interactions with strangers, interactions based upon a faith she did not she had born out of a fear she knew all too well.
We each have things that impact us and how we respond tells more about us than any identification cards we carry. Our anger might be well deserved and understandable but is the negativity it can create? Usually it is not. Fear is something we all experience but allowing it to cripple us is also useless. Through the interactions she had with strangers, River Jordan tells the story of connections, of faith, and of discovery. In short, it is the story of living life in the here and now and of making a difference.
In her book “Praying for Strangers”, River Jordan states: “I can be a woman who prays for strangers but remains completely blind to their bruises.” How many people did you pass today? Now, answer me this: How many people did you really see? With all the sensory overload our busy lives, we often become indifferent to the people around us, the people the inhabit our living.
In the final minutes of their lives, people often report that it is not the material things they have in their lives that matter,; what matters are the people. The very people we often take for granted or simply seem to not see often give our life definition. People we may have ignored or simply have not really seen might just be the one thing that helps define our living.
We need to step out of our busy lives to really live. We need to share our living with others. Our blindness to those around us translates into inaction on our part in giving of our selves. What we forget is that by giving of ourselves, we give them the most precious thing – our attention. Writer Kathleen Norris talks about our lives having a liturgy of their own and that each life has a sacred rhythm unique to each of us. Far too often we go through our lives with the mute button pressed down when it comes to hearing the rhythm of those we love and care about.
Too many people go through their daily living with blinders on, not really seeing the person standing next to them. We share common ground and yet act as if we are alone. We should connect with those around us. Such a connection creates a web in our lives that unites us with the rest of mankind. It is not just about the person we are praying for or the actions we undertake. Ultimately these actions benefit most the person who does them. Such action opens our eyes so that we see not only the need but the pain. It acknowledges the want without blame or guilt.
We all make decisions about action every hour. What will I wear? What will I eat? Where will I go? How will I do this task? It is time to think outside the box of our own being and ask ourselves what action can and should we do today to help another. We need to take action and move forward.