Curly Girl and I oohed and ahhhhed over them. I watched his family. I watched him play. I knew he didn't get new shoes very often. I listened to him tell me how he was good at cartwheels and head stands. Then he'd try to explain why he was having trouble doing really good ones for me. Before he left, he told me he was moving and he was afraid he would have no friends. Did I mention I loved him?
Last week we drove to what Southerners call an "old folks home" to visit an elderly relative. I've known her a long time. I have heard many of her stories and nodded my head with a fake attentiveness. Not this time. I decided to really hear her. So I shut my mouth...a monumental task....and just listened to every word she offered me. She talked. The more I listened, the more she shared...and the deeper she went. She shared matters of her heart, regrets of her past, fears of her future. I wanted to cry. It felt like the pain of her past and the weight of her words transferred to me as she spoke them aloud.
I saw her again today for a get together. When it was time to go, she stopped me and said, "Thank you for listening to me the other day."
When I was still in Africa, my friend J and I were sitting on my roof porch. We planned to play a card game but were too busy talking to ever really get into the game. We talked about serving the LORD and how simple it all really is. You know, the whole "be not do" and all that. I was suddenly very aware of the reality of how this isn't an Africa thing. It's an anywhere thing. Listening to people and really hearing them. White, Brown, whatever. It doesn't matter. People want to be heard and in the name of JESUS I can live my life...wherever I am...hearing them.
I am only in America for a little while before we set out on another international adventure. I wasn't very excited about coming back here...but every day I am here, the more I am seeing the people and the more I am hearing them. I love it. I love them.
Life with JESUS isn't complicated. I think I have mentioned that one before haven't I? ;) But it's true! You don't have to be with the "poor and needy" to do it. We are all desperately poor and needy. You can see people, you can hear people wherever you are. So do it. Let them matter to you. Hear them and do it in HIS NAME. If you do, I truly believe you will see, as I have, that a supernatural love and care...HIS love and HIS concern for them will flow through you.
Now, that was worth the trip.