April 6, 2013
Now when Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.” And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it. (Mark 16:9-15, 20)
Sometimes we are so busy with our own agendas, our schedules and the things we want to do and accomplish, we don’t have time to listen to others. Ok, let me revise that. Sometimes I am so busy with my agenda and stuff that I don’t make time to listen to others. I’m busy being a professional. And then at some point, I begin to feel spiritually dry, which is embarrassing for a priest. This is because I’ve forgotten to be a watcher-outer for the Holy. And I’ve forgotten that an important way that I learn about the Holy is by listening to people telling about their experiences with the Holy. I’ve forgotten that people have a lot to teach me about God and that it’s my job to listen to their teaching and believe it, be surprised by it, be changed by it.
Sometimes these people are unknown to me personally; they’re in line at the store or at the next table at a restaurant. And they tell amazing stories about love and faith and mystery, although it may be couched in “ordinary” language. If I’m not being a watcher-outer for the Holy, I might not hear how God is moving around in the world; instead I might just think I’m hearing people talk about nothing special.
But the best stories about how God is moving around in the world really do come from the people I know. They may need to be asked. (Not everyone is as forthcoming as Mary Magdalene.) But mostly I just need to make time to be in conversation with them. To watch out for the Holy with them and through them and to believe them when they tell me the amazing ways God works in their lives. To believe them when they interpret the signs that indicate God has been busy with them. And to learn again what it means to belong to God.
Make time to listen to the people around you and listen for how God is working in the world around you through them. Eavesdrop at restaurants; take a friend out to lunch and invite conversation. Ask them when they last felt that God was near. And be amazed.
Oh, yes, to be “a watcher-outer for the holy” is just what I need to do to keep my eyes off my navel and my ears open to the world in which we abide together. I try to be sympathetic; I forget the potential to be amazed. Truly fabulous!
Through the years I have come to believe that most of the time, God speaks to me through other people; I’ve not experienced too many burning bushes. This reflection reminds me that unless I watch out for the holy, I am likely to miss this communication. Thank you for pointing this out.
What a good subject for me to hear on this beautiful day. Thanks so much for your uplifting words!
Not so easy to focus on The Other. (‘The Other’ as in one of the names of God.)
Nor is it easy to focus on the other, as in other people.
But, those two things are what we are called to do.
As in the song:
Open the eyes of my heart, Lord!
Open the eyes of my heart!
I want to see you!
I want to see you!
Evenso, I find it hard to get away from MYself (as in I, myself and me) and Tune in to
The Other and other people.