This is my column from the May issue of ChurchActs, our diocesan newspaper
I had an interesting experience the other day. I was driving down the road to Jamestown, a road I have driven for about 30 years. At one corner along the way I suddenly realized that I had never noticed a certain building there before. In my defense the building is set back off the road a little way. At the same time it's a medium sized two story barn! I have no memory of that barn. I find it hard to believe that I never look that direction every time I drive by. So I must have seen it but it just never registered before.
As I continued on my drive I thought about that barn. And then I thought about young people (bet that comes as a big surprise!). Have you ever felt like your life was like that barn? Ever felt like everyone's driving by and not paying you any attention at all? There were certainly times when I was in high school when that was true. I wasn't the smartest kid in school, I wasn't an athlete, I wasn't the most gifted performer in the school musicals and I was a loooooong way from being the most popular person in my school. There were times when it felt pretty awful, being that barn.
But there's not really a whole lot the barn can do about it, is there? You can wish you were bigger barn, a more attractive barn, a flashier barn, that you were a little closer to the road or maybe even on a better road. Or what if you hadn't been created a barn at all? Why couldn't you have been made a house, or a mansion or City Hall? Of course that's not the way it works out. In the end we all have to be the barn we were created to be.
Okay, I'll stop with the barn metaphor.
Because I really want to talk about the folks who drive by and don't notice. How many people are there in your life? I'll bet you just added up your family, friends, some teachers and maybe a few others. Is that really all the people in your life or did you just count the people that you want in your life (or with whom you're stuck, like brothers and sisters)? The reality is that all of us have many more people in our lives than we think. How many of them do we just cruise by each day without a second thought? How many people do you cruise by every day in the hallway at school and never even notice? If they disappeared tomorrow would you even notice? Our faith calls us to not only notice those people but to make sure that they're Okay too. Jesus talks repeatedly about caring for the poor and the weak and the suffering. When we choose to ignore, or even worse put down, someone we're not helping them and we're increasing their suffering.
Now it would be easy to think that I'm really aiming this at the group that my daughter refers to as “The Populars”. You know the supposed cream of high school society. In reality this applies to everyone whether you're one of the “cool kids” or not. Every one in your life is in your care at least a little bit. It's amazing how something simple like a smile and a “Hi” can make all the difference in the world. Sometimes it's surprising who needs that little extra help too.
Our call to faith involves everyone around us. It calls us to help those who need help. At a more fundamental level I think it calls us to pay attention. How will we know if someone needs help if we just zoom right past them.
How many people are there in your life that are just barns you zoom by? How many people suffer needlessly because we go by heedlessly? Use your eyes as instruments of your faith and see how many “new” barns you discover.