I’m noticing I’ve become much more of an introvert as I live in the middle of this thing called grief. My focus and thoughts circle inward, and as I move among people in stores, or out and about, I crave a certain cloak of invisibility. My gaze drops, my shoulders round–everything turned downward. It’s a wonder I haven’t been crashing into people or things out there!
But today there were a few moments when I felt a gentle, clear prompting to peek out of my shell. And each time I met the eyes of someone else who clearly personally knew the kind of territory I’ve so recently come to inhabit.
A thin, homeless man shot a furtive glance my way, visibly stressed as he tried to maneuver his bike laden with full, black plastic garbage bags along a busy, rainy street.
The other was a woman at the grocery store. The first thing I noticed was a kind of energy void around her still body–in the middle of a bustling store–and recognized she, too, was practiced in the fine (but lonely) art of invisibility.
I think that actually, there are people like me–like him, like her–all around us, because pain and loss are such an inevitable part of our lives. We all slam face first into them at one time or another.
So herein lies the challenge God has put before me with this heightened awareness: am I going to let myself quietly, quickly cinch up my super-invisibility cloak when I peek out enough to see someone else in pain, or am I going to look them in the eye, make some sort of connection, and try to be open to where it should go from there?
I have learned first hand over the past four months that compassion travels directly from the giver’s eyes to the receiver’s heart. And I have received so much of that healing, generous love that I need to see those moments–those glimpses–as opportunities to “pay forward” a small part of the care and compassion that have been poured into me.
When I first spoke with Jim Higgins, our pilot and lead searcher, I asked what his fees were and he said “There’s no charge. I’d be happy to try to help you. All I ask is that you pay it forward someday.”
Well, here’s my chance to begin–one glimpse at a time.