He sat in his wheel chair on the corner of Goodwin and Granite Streets as if he meant to cross. The man did not follow the other pedestrians. Across the street, I carried my book and walked fast towards Wild Iris Coffee Shop and wondered why he sat unmoving in his wheel chair on the corner. At the time, my mind wandered over Chapter 3: Invitations to Practice the Presence of People.
“Love can sound like a lovely, lofty idea, but it sometimes boils down to remembering a face, a name or a conversation. This sort of seeing happens in our bodies. And this fact, of course, is humbling. We forget names. We forget the name of the person talking to us right now because when they introduced themselves, we were only paying half attention. Love is not a sweet, dithery feeling; it is risky, humbling, time-consuming affair. When it is not humbling us with our self-centered blindness to others, it is guzzling our time like a race car guzzles gas. And since time is short, time is money, time is a-wastin’ and time is up, it takes practice to take the time to see people.”
(pg. 61; Invitations from God by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun; IVP publishing)
I crossed the cobbled walkway to the corner where he sat and it was like he awoke from a dream. His chin lifted and his nondescript eyes looked at me.
“I’m invisible.” A big grin brightened his face, deepening the lines around his mouth.
This seemingly coincidental play of my thoughts and his words startled me. I could only blame God.
“I see you.” I smiled, and really looked at him.
“I’m single.” He said with a big grin.
“Have a good week!” I laughed.
He wheeled away from me across the walkway to the opposite side of the street. I continued walking towards Wild Iris, and thought of that chapter and him.
There are some weeks the world seems against me, and no one seems to see me. Whether it’s my age or whatever prejudices people hold against me, I walk through a crowd and feel invisible. Some dismiss me with their words or lack of action. Some look down on me and I feel intimidated and melt away into the crowd to spend time with those that do see me. Sometimes, it’s just my paranoia that isolates me learned from years of others destructive behaviors and my own. Loving is far from easy.
Calhoun says loving is not safe or comfortable. It may not even be what we do well.
“A broken heart,” she says, “is the irrefutable sign that people are never loved in general or in theory. People can only be loved in practice and in particular. They can only be loved by choice. To choose to love someone means your agenda and perhaps even your life may be forfeited. ”
(from pg. 62)
I remember feeling inadequate, invisible, unwanted, disrespected and dismissed and my heart never wants anyone else to feel that way. In Christ, we are worthy. We are loved. We are not dismissed, unwanted, inadequate, or invisible. I thought tonight again of that man in the wheel chair.
Sure, maybe he was a dirty old man, but God used him to illustrate a point. Am I not seeing people? Am I too busy? It’s not coincidence that I met the man in the wheel chair, or got this book to review. I need to evaluate how I spend my time and make sure that I am “liming” with Jesus and all the people who He loves. Even if I have trouble loving them, He loves them, and that’s enough.
“How do you feel about liming with people—that is, passing the time of day with others without an agenda, simply relaxing and being present with them even on short notice? How do you feel about people who interrupt and throw off your agenda?”
(from pg. 59)