Denine and I enjoy a television program called "Parenthood". The show covers the life of three generations of the Braverman family which is headed by Zeke and Camille. Last season it came out that Zeke and Camille had serious marriage problems that stemmed in part from cheating on each other. It looked like the long marriage was hopelessly damaged. In effort to save themselves, the spouses agreed to marriage counseling.
Slowly the marriage began to heal. One of the apparent issues was Zeke's style of leadership effectively ran over Camille and after years of taking it Camille was no longer willing to be a doormat. Zeke learned. He grew. Eventually when he found himself returning to old habits he would come to realization and recite a therapy mantra "I hear you and I see you". After years he was finally learning how to fully recognize his wife.
Norm enters his local corner bar. Just inside the door the regulars shout "Norm!" to greet him. Welcome to Cheers, where everybody knows your name...if you too are a regular.
Before our girls when to Kenya they asked if we could all go out for a night of Karaoke. There is a long story as to how that conversation got started so I'll skip that particular set of details. We had noticed a local "members club" had Dynamite Karaoke on Friday nights so I stopped and paid the handsome $10 fee to join. Yes, it was $10 to join. Classy joint.
When the chosen Friday night arrived the four of us ventured out to give it a go. We did not know what to expect and I think we all had a minor case of cold feet, but we forged ahead. I even tried to say maybe we were all just a little too tired to go out, but that line of reasoning failed. Inside what you may call a dive bar we found a group of friends, kind of dressed like bikers, that had pulled a bunch of tables together.
It was clear that the Old Couples Biker Club did this gathering most Friday nights. Also, it was apparent they were friends with the staff and the Karaoke DJ. A little functioning community had sprung up on a plywood floor amid ashtrays and empty beer bottles. It did not take long until they started introducing themselves to us. Over the remainder of the evening we laughed together and cheered for each other. At the end of the night there were hugs and handshakes. It's a great memory.
Some other Friday nights we connect with a handful of our local friends and go to a local spot for pizza. We always ask to sit in "Jeremy's Area". It is sometimes more like going to see Jeremy, our waiter, than going for a meal. He visits and catches up with what is going on in everyone's life. He thinks of his regulars as his people. In between our conversations with Jeremy we celebrate Friday night, share our life stories, cheer our friendship, and we greet other friends who show up for dinner.
We like to "keep it local" when we can, so we patronize our closest market, which is a Piggly Wiggly. James, the store manager, will try to bring in products that regular customers suggest. I stop to say hello to James most of the time when I see him in the store. Bryan back in produce always asks how many bike miles I am riding these days because he once saw me come in after a ride. Denine uses specific checkout lines to speak to cashiers she has built a relationships with by being interested in their lives.
I think it is pretty fascinating that Jesus spent much of his ministry with 12 men and 5 or 6 women that traveled with him. It was very much a model of community and defines the pattern of the early church. It is pretty clear that while he was comfortable speaking to large crowds he was very focused on living and dealing with with people he could know individually.
I find it equally interesting that Jesus stopped to talk to people along the way. He took the time. He was interested in knowing them. Big crowds, religious leaders, and self proclaimed important people could wait. Conversations went past sports and weather and drilled right to the core of life.
Consider grabbing a Bible and check out the fourth chapter of John. It's the lengthy account of Jesus encounter with the Samaritan Woman at the well. In those days a Jewish man would not speak to a woman, even his wife, in public. And here goes Jesus speaking to a half-breed woman. He openly discusses theology with her. Rabbis do not discuss such things with a woman and here The Rabbi is doing so with a filthy prostitute. Then he takes a drink from her ritually unclean bucket. I hear you and I see you.
To be known. How many people out there are simply waiting to be known by someone? Anyone. How many people lead lonely lives in the middle of the crowd? Waiting. And waiting. To be known and not saying a word. Maybe they want to but can not. Maybe they Just Do Not Know How. To be known.
How hard is it for us to take time to know someone? Really. How difficult is it to believe it is important simply because it was important to Jesus? Do we fully understand the simple act of knowing someone can be life changing. Life giving. Live breathing. For both people.
May you find the courage to make others known. May you find the simple words that speak truth, life and encouragement. May you notice opportunities that before were not seen.
I hear you and I see you.