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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Isaiah 49:14-16
But Zion said, "The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me."

And the Lord said, "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands."

I struggle to understand this notion of feeling forgotten - feeling ignored, overlooked, unseen, disregarded. By whom, and by what measure?

My mother holds me and knows me. To the nurse helping her deliver me, I might be the third baby of the day. In the newspaper clipping I'm listed along with seven other babies born on November 17, 1949. And that's just in my home town.

I wrote my name and address in a book 45 years ago. Rather than ending with my zip code I moved on through the stars and galaxies and ended with "the universe." That's where I live, after all. Me and you and several billion others. And as Francis Keating points out, the family of man was, is and is to come. All who ever lived and ever will live have that same address.

Thoughts like these act on me like a lens, zooming out and out and out until I'm just a speck in the eye of the beholder. What beauty can there be in me, beheld like that, just another tiny "other" in the crowd? Perhaps I should be amazed that God notices me at all?

But I balance this with my own experience of looking into the eyes of a stranger. They are always deep. After talking (mostly listening) with someone for a good five minutes, I begin to understand the uniqueness and beauty of their one life, all their own. Leave it to the human mind, seeking its own identity, to notice that even snowflakes are all different. If snowflakes have that privilege, then don't we too? Us too? Us too? Us too?

Sometimes I work way too hard at being different. What am I trying to prove? "God, notice me!" Snowflakes just appear and melt away. Flowers grow and bloom and die. So do I. Isn't that enough?

Beside all of this, God promises me his presence for eternity. What more do I want from God? I am as special as a snowflake, and so is everyone else. Everyone else. One part of being a family is feeling special; another essential part is making my brother and sister feel special too. Can't have one without the other.

God has engraved me on the palm of his hand. When I reach out my hand to yours, I want you to be engraved there too. We pass on what God gives to us. Mostly, that's love. That's acceptance. That's me considering you ... special.

Thank you Lord, for teaching us to be brothers and sisters together. You cast out every fear.

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