Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Simple Act of Noticing

Last week Charly checked out a book from the library that he thought I would like called Listen Love Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World by Karen Ehman.

It's an encouraging book and I appreciate all the practical ideas she offers for noticing and then acting on the needs of those around us. She calls them heart drops (glimpses into a person's heart through their words or a feeling we get from them).

And she highlights Jesus as our ultimate example of paying attention to those in need:

“Although he was the Son of God and on a very big mission, Jesus was never too busy to notice. He lived alert. He could be among a crowd of thousands and yet focus on one weary soul who needed a look, a word, or a touch from him. Sometimes, even while on his way to do something important, he turned his attention to what appeared to be lesser requests. Because Jesus wasn't about doing big things. He was about doing the right thing. And often for him, the right thing was noticing one simple soul.”

She goes on to describe what it looks like for us today:

“People all around us every day are longing for someone to notice them. They may feel alone or ashamed. Afraid or apprehensive. The simple act of noticing someone as he or she journeys through life can lovingly mirror the behavior of God. But in order to behave like Jesus did, and spread the healing balm of his love, we must be willing to drop our agenda—or at least put it on hold—to reach out and touch those who need it most. The scene doesn't have to be impressive. The circumstances are usually quite ordinary. And often the stage is set right in front of us as we go about our days. In fact, sometimes the stage is set right within our own four walls.”

We celebrated Thanksgiving with my parents last month and I observed a beautiful example of how they live this out. One of their elderly neighbors across the street had just returned home from an extended stay at the hospital. My parents had been checking in on her husband while she was in the hospital and walking their dog for him. My Dad noticed how discouraged he seemed and offered to take him out for coffee. He also extended an invitation for them to join us for our Thanksgiving meal, but the wife didn't have enough energy yet. So my parents said they would bring the meal to them. And they filled two trays with portions from each one of the many Thanksgiving dishes, in individual containers for easy reheating. My Dad and I delivered them before we started our meal. 

And then we enjoyed a Thanksgiving feast with other friends my parents had invited. The Mom of the family was sick and couldn't come, so my parents had one of the daughters fix a plate to set aside for her, before anyone else went through the line.

I'm sure my parents will be surprised (and even embarrassed) that I shared this with you. These kinds of acts of service are, to them, as natural as breathing. They are always on the alert, always reaching out, always seeking to bless. Whether its serving in the soup kitchen, interacting with senior citizens at the memory loss nursing home or listening to young readers at the library (with their therapy dog Rocky), wrapping Christmas presents for a friend with rheumatoid arthritis, helping a friend organize his garage, taking neighbors to the airport or checking on their houses while they're gone, their lives are all about service. And serving others brings them joy.

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.” St. Augustine

What needs are you noticing around you today?
Which ones might God be prompting you to act on?

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