A funny thing happened when I was a school principal and made a rare home visit. The teacher and I arrived at the home, which was dimly lit, so it took a few moments for our eyes to adjust to the room. When we could see clearly, we noticed that the living room was filled with bird cages, and there were birds of all sizes and shapes both inside and outside of cages. The mom greeted us and explained that she raised and sold birds and shipped them all over the country.
The teacher expressed her concerns about the child’s education, and the two began talking about how to help the child be more successful in school. It wasn’t long before I noticed a bird flying around the room. The bird flew right by my head; so close that I felt my hair move. The mother never reacted! The bird whizzed around the room and made another maneuver before landing squarely on top of the teacher’s head. One might think that the mother would have shooed the bird away or attempted to remove it, but she did not. In fact, she never stopped talking and totally ignored the fact that the bird was on top of the teacher’s head. Furthermore, she totally disregarded it when the bird relieved itself on the teacher’s forehead.
At that point, I could see that the mom wasn’t going to do anything at all, so I excused myself to get tissues from my car to help the poor teacher. I quickly returned and handed the tissues to the teacher, who began cleaning her forehead and glasses. Amazingly, the mom kept talking and never acknowledged what had happened. Fortunately, this teacher had a great sense of humor and we have laughed about this many times.
This incident makes me wonder how often things happen right before our eyes; things that go unnoticed. Magicians don’t have supernatural powers, but they are masters of diverting our attention from things that are literally in front of our eyes. Our daily chores and obligations can do the same thing! It’s easy to get caught up in a to-do list and miss seeing our family member who needs us. At work, our attention can be so focused on the tasks at hand, that we completely ignore the co-worker who is suffering in silence, and desperately needs a friend.
During this Lenten season, instead of giving up something, I’m going to try to add something-attentiveness! I want to make a conscious effort to be a better listener and to have eyes to see the needs of others—to love like Jesus loved!
Susan Easttom, Director of Family Ministry