Living in a manse across from the church my wife serves, on a corner where both streets are well-traveled, and given that we spend a fair amount of time outside with our two dogs, and some of those times one is less willing than the other to embark on a walk, we feel noticed — a lot — by passersby in cars and on foot. Some see our older doggo plunked down in the sunshine and think he has heat exhaustion from being walked too far, when really he has lumbered to this exact spot 150 feet from our kitchen door for his own pleasure. Our pupper prefers the shade to the sunshine, but he has his own reasons for balking and simply lying down. I am trying to come to some peace with this phase of my life, enjoying the autumn-blue sky and the reddening leaves while I stand leashed to one or both, and I have noticed I am less concerned about the focus of the world going by.
This week in our blogging community, writers have shared things noticed about others and themselves.
And my brain is straining to square these two: the presence of someone who feels the words of that sticker strongly enough to mount it prominently high on a Cadillac Escalade and move it through the world to be seen, and who also believes in Jesus enough to kneel at the same altar and receive the same sacrament in devotion to the same, peace-bringing Lord as I. Are the sticker’s sentiments left conveniently in the parking lot, so the driver may come to the altar and receive? Because in receiving, we are one people and yet, that sticker assures me that part of Us wants to make Me cry. Again.
Is it any wonder that social media “dings” on our smartphones, the little red numbers on Facebook, or the indicators on Twitter are called “notifications?” Is it any wonder that when I feel isolated, or cut off from community, or unnoticed in the world that I go in search of “notifications” in the hopes of being noticed? In my deepest need for knowing others and being known by them, have I settled for little numbers and sounds to assure me that someone, somewhere knows me a little better than the stranger in the grocery store?
Diane Roth notices how much we do not see:
Recently our congregation completed a modest capital drive. For part of our capital drive, we finished a modest face-lift of our sanctuary. Now that we’re done, we’re asking, what’s the next step? We are talking about the necessity to reach out in our community in new ways — to know our neighbors, and think of ways that we can meet the felt needs in our community. We are not a large congregation, but we know that we need to be a part of our neighborhood, know our neighbors, and care about them in real and concrete ways.
In the middle of thinking about what our “church” could do, I thought about these two small encounters that I knew about — the woman who visits her shut-in neighbors, the family who has befriended a teen-age boy and his mom. How many other unseen encounters are there in my congregation, just like these?
Kathy Manis Findley notices something she almost missed:
In the years since my first quest for spiritual awakening, I have learned some important things. One is that spiritual awakenings have come to me many times, in moments of glorious splendor and in moments of gentle transformation I hardly noticed. The important part is not striving for a personal awakening; the important part is waiting for it expectantly and desiring it deeply.
Martha Spong is executive director of RevGalBlogPals and a clergy coach. She is co-author of Denial is My Spiritual Practice (and Other Failures of Faith), with Rachel Hackenberg, and editor of There’s a Woman in the Pulpit, a collection of essays by members of the RevGalBlogPals community, as well as the forthcoming The Words of Her Mouth: Psalms for the Struggle.
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