I recently asked a friend what he’d thought of an event I was sure he’d attended — and at which he’d likely had courtside seats. Whether at a baseball game or a Bruce Springsteen concert, he always managed to sit behind home plate or in the front row. One night at the ballpark, I even saw him on the jumbotron, grinning about 20 feet from the catcher, while I squinted from the nosebleeds.
So I was surprised when he told me that he actually hadn’t made it to the big bash.
Instead, he’d watched it on television with another friend, who wasn’t able to go due to illness.
Knowing that he would have enjoyed the gathering, I’m sure his decision probably caused him a pang. But knowing as well his compassion and loyalty, I also suspect that he wouldn’t have wanted to be anyplace else.
And from a bedside that day, he’d actually journeyed closely with the Lord, simply by being present to someone who needed him.
As Christians, we often talk of “accompaniment” as a ministry. It’s an earnest word, kind of warm and with some heft, and it sounds good in meetings. But the term can quickly become unmoored from the dull, even frustrating realities it often describes — listening attentively when you’re exhausted, giving time and money you don’t really have to spare, resisting the temptation to “fix” others while channeling God’s mercy and kindness to them.
Those tasks are embedded in the moment, which is exactly how we experience life itself; even a single day unfolds in thousands of seconds. Hidden in each is the face of Christ, seeking to be recognized and revered.
Can I find him in the person whose eyes are clouded by addiction?
Do I see him in the one whose religion — or politics, or language, or skin — is unlike mine?
Will I know him if he veils himself in poverty or loneliness or mental illness?
And if he takes refuge among the silent and “insignificant” of this earth, will I discern him there?
How often I strain my eyes for a Savior over whom I stumble: he is in those I love the least.
Yet if I am willing to slow my steps to meet him here, now — in whatever way he reveals himself — I might, like my friend, be quite far from the stage, but I’ll have the best seat in the house, with a view to heaven itself.
Gina Christian is a senior content producer at CatholicPhilly.com and host of the Inside CatholicPhilly.com podcast. Follow her on Twitter at @GinaJesseReina.
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