I experienced something I didn’t expect yesterday afternoon, a mistake I only realized two hours later.
It had been a bumpy weekend. I’d been nit-picky and a little contentious. I’d been fighting pain that escalated into a massive headache. We’ve been walking with several of our kiddos through some rough patches. I’m just six weeks post-op from two surgeries, and still healing, and we’ve recently embarked on a brand new cancer treatment path with my Dad. We’re down a car, totaled in an accident a couple of weeks ago, and trying to figure out if and how we can get by without it or if we can/should dip into savings to replace it. My brain felt clogged with details, so it was a welcome respite when my husband suggested we all go see a movie.
Five of us left from home in one car, and two others joined us at the theater. While waiting in line, I glanced up to see a totally unexpected face, a good friend from North Africa, walking across the lobby, arms reaching to embrace me. I was delighted and instantly saddened, because I knew why they were “home” — to attend the funeral of their close family friend and business partner. A deeply felt loss for them.
My friend, always gracious, asked, “Do you know my friend, Naomi?”
“Yes,” I’d answered. And never once thought to walk over and take Naomi’s hand, let her know we’ve been praying for her and her children, offer her a hug, a compassionate word for the loss of her husband.
Never once had I thought beyond the thousand small details clogging my mind, until that realization stopped me cold in a sudden shudder two hours later.
How often do I fail to see beyond my own circumstances? Beyond the thousand details swirling in my head to the one – deep, rich, eternally significant – detail that matters most in each moment?
It’s not that the thousand details are unimportant. They aren’t. My kids matter. A lot. My Dad’s journey through metastasized melanoma matters. A lot. My own health matters. Even our car situation matters. But at that moment, in that theater, Naomi and her children and their loss mattered most. And I missed it, consumed with my own little world.
I’d missed the moment of significance. That one moment, held gently and tenderly in the Father’s outstretched Hand that mattered most.
A moment when, if we’re aware and open to the Spirit’s gentle leading, the opaque veil of humanity is rent and eternity bleeds through, distinctly clear, deeply, intimately, profoundly, drawing our hearts toward home.
Father, as we enter this sacred season of Advent, may we be mindful of the moments we too often miss. The moments when heaven pierces earth and we catch a glimpse of Your holiness, the aroma of eternity, the sound of Your still, small Voice, gently, tenderly leading us home. Amen.