On this specifically more physically active day of advent wonder and meditation, I want to invite you act upon the world around us from a place and space of faith-full grace giving.
I recently was out running errands near where I work and I held the door open for the person exiting the store immediately behind me. A simple thing. I’d already opened it for myself, so it was a whole extra 5 seconds of effort. That person arriving in my footsteps was in shock and awe. “No one does that anymore” the person candidly informed me. We had a brief exchange (I am quite a talker!) and referenced how we are all so much in our head that we increasingly don’t recognize each other. I believe it’s because we have allowed ourselves to become prisoners to what I think is the blinding tyranny of “our” urgent, and the societal trauma from our tribalism. I didn’t go into all of that with the stranger, but in the conversation I did say it was my way of being a good neighbor and paying love forward.
Nothing big, but then again….
One of my favorite shows/novels has a character who dies (sorry – no spoiler alert) holding the door. He has seemed like an oaf for the whole story, a sidekick needed for his brawn, in the end it’s his heart that makes life possible for others. Here’s the scene:
My ladies even purchased me a birthday t-shirt with the citation. When I wear it I always get comments and not seldomly start conversations from it. Maybe my nerdom shining through also helps to start the conversation with similar people.
Yet in that door-holding event last week I was reminded of the power of our actions, even, and maybe in particular, the small ones. They do speak louder than words when done freely, issues from our worldview, core beliefs and life-shaping values.
The days are getting busy – traffic is getting worse – people are getting more harried. Statistically Monday the 18th of December is the most stressful day in our country/society, as people realize time before Christmas is expiring and their to-do lists are expanding. That stress pushes us to not see each other, to blind ourselves to the needs around us from closed doors faced by package-laden people to closed doors faced by those who live on the street, struggle to find work, or don’t “fit in” to the dominant cultural center of what a “citizen” looks like in our society and thus face a situation of there being no room for them in our world.
So act upon your trust, hope, faith, joy, and God’s grace in this season of wonder about God coming in all divine power and not being welcomed because folks were too busy with the census, were expecting a different package, and could make room for God in their world. Act without expectation of conversation, or even gratitude. Act without being asked. Look and see what’s needed around you, then step in and act upon the world from the grace of God that you’ve already tasted. Look back at the end of the day, passing the day before your eyes in a sort of examen prayer, looking for the places and spaces in which God invited you to make room and act upon the world. How did it make you feel? What happened from it? Did you glimpse the Holy One in some part of it?
If you’re game, share your experience in the comments to “act upon” others….