In the metro heading home I looked around and saw that everyone was using their cell phones, either for emails, texting, games or music. Younger, older, students, teachers, people of all cultures: all with their heads lowered. There were no exceptions!
People appeared tuned out of their immediate surroundings and tuned into other places via the internet. As for me? I looked up, observed this reality and returned to my draft blog post (on my device)!
Remember the buzz a few years ago, that the internet would bring us together? It has, all around the world, but not necessarily to those who are next to us on the metro, bus or even our neighbours next door. Like most things, there is an up side and a down side.
The gospel of Luke (8: 16-18) has the following words of Jesus:
‘No one lights a lamp and covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, he sets it on a lampstand, so those who enter can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and nothing concealed that will not be known and illuminated. Pay attention, therefore, to how you listen. Whoever has will be given more, but whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken away from him.’
As a community of faith we are all about relationships. With God, through Jesus, with ourselves and others. We are lamps uncovered, not hidden, shining into various situations and lives. It is light that reveals what is concealed and illuminates hearts and minds with grace and hope. At the core of this text is an exhortation as to how we listen and observe.
My experience in the metro is repeated daily for all of us whether in our primary relationships, at the grocery store or when out for a walk. There is less engagement with people; cell phones lower our eyes and we protect ourselves from others. It is a great challenge to look people in the eyes and be present to them as light, in a common humanity and with openness. If we cannot find the way of being light inviting others in relationship then even what we have may be taken from us. For as followers of Jesus we are called in a fundamental and basic way to listen and observe, engage and share, and in seeking authentic relationships to be a compassionate presence to others. What a challenge this has been and remains for all of us.
Risking being light in the metro means lifting my head, putting away my cell phone, and at a minimum, holding in prayer the needs of those surrounding me.
My human gaze, my smile, my openness to engage are conduits of light.
Are you nervous yet? I am.
Following Jesus is for those courageous disciples who want to live the intersection of faith and everyday life. If there is hope for ‘church’ it is in seeking out and living human contact in the every day. It is in sharing the story of faith.
Bless O God, our human regard, our eyes with compassion and our hearts with the willingness to be present to those lives intersecting with us everyday.
Grant us courage to be present to others and ourselves.