A young man walks into a church just before the pastor starts the sermon. He doesn’t look like everyone else in the congregation. He is different. Very different. His difference makes people in the congregation uncomfortable. He walks down the aisle looking for a seat, but the pews are full. No one scoots over to make room. He continues down the aisle toward the front of the church. The pastor pauses, unsure whether to begin. No one acknowledges the visitor. The tension mounts. When he gets near the front and sees that there is no seat available for him, he quietly sits down on the floor. An elderly deacon walks slowly down the aisle towards him. Everyone is expecting that the deacon will ask him to leave and they are hoping this unpleasantness will all be over soon. The tension thrums. When the deacon reaches the young man, he awkwardly and with great difficulty lowers himself to the floor to sit next to the visitor and worship alongside him. The pastor says, “What I’m about to preach, you might never remember. What you have just seen, you will never forget. Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible some people will ever read.”
I was reading a friend’s blog today. She wrote about being called to the phone years ago when she was in school because her mother was dying, and about the last tender and loving conversation they had. Later, someone she didn’t know very well came up to her and said that she had inadvertently overheard the conversation from a nearby room. This person offered words of comfort as best she could. My friend wrote that these words meant a lot to her and reminded her of the importance of sharing our hearts with those we love.
The writing was so eloquent and deeply moving that I went to my friend and started crying as I expressed my gratitude for her sharing this story. She replied, “Don’t you remember? The person who came up to me was you.” In the years since, we have developed a friendship I treasure, but I do not remember this early encounter. I wonder how many other encounters I’ve forgotten that made some lasting impression on someone else? And what kind of impression did I leave? Some I would not be proud of now, I’m sure.
So my friend gave me two gifts today. First, the touching story of saying goodbye to her mother. And second, the reminder that with every word and deed, I am writing the book of my life, and I never know when someone will be reading.
10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There) is a program to help us develop habits to grow a joyful spirit. Many of us sabotage our happiness by habits that we might not even be aware of. Identifying and changing these habits can build a reservoir of well-being to enhance our happy times and sustain us during challenging times.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
What are You Writing in Your Book?
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just when I think the LAST posting was the one most important to me, you do it again, and touch me even more.ReplyDelete
“What I’m about to preach, you might never remember. What you have just seen, you will never forget. Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible some people will ever read.”
I am not a "religious" person, but I think we all practice some form of love and compassion and truth and wonder. I hope that I inspire and share with others good lessons about living.
this was a lovely story; I want to meet the deacon who followed through with his simple response to show someone he was welcomed and accepted. thank you.
You are right. The beauty of the story is not limited to any particular faith. It could have happened in any setting where someone sees beyond differences and makes an outsider feel welcome.ReplyDelete
What a heart touching story, thank you for sharing it Galen. This reminds me of some stories which I've been involved in without even knowing I was ever even in others lives... God works in mysterious ways.ReplyDelete
Thanks, darlin. This event made me realize that everything I do matters, maybe not in ways I will ever know, but it matters just the same. Thanks for commenting.ReplyDelete