In previous posts, I have encouraged you to make room for others on life’s narrow paths. I have told you to lead by example and encouraged you to try and fail and to not give up. I have given you advice on relating to people and knowing when not to relate to people, when to speak up and when to be quiet. But one of the things that I have missed is that we all need to PAY ATTENTION!!
I have told you to look at the world and the people who are around and in front of you. What I haven’t told you is that you need to notice the things and the people who aren’t there. You need to learn to recognize the significance of absence. Practice seeing the people who are crying out for help in their silence, in their apartness, in their NOT being on the path at all.
Sadly, it took a friend crying out on behalf of someone else for me to realize this. And when she pointed it out, I realized with shock that I hadn’t even noticed that this person was missing. How awful is that? I have been so caught up in what is around me, concentrating on my reactions to people and situations and trying to make sense of the emotions that have cropped up because change is coming and departures are imminent. I have been so focused on the obvious things that I haven’t even noticed the people who silently just went away.
Think about how you have felt when YOUR absence wasn’t noticed…when people stopped recognizing that you weren’t part of the group, when someone didn’t notice that you stopped trying, when someone didn’t reach out when you drew away. How did you feel? Now ask yourself how closely you pay attention to the silent comings and goings, the prolonged silences, the people who aren’t posting as much on Facebook, or who haven’t been to church in a while or who didn’t show up to a party that you attended. What is going on with the people who aren’t there? What are they going through that makes it easier to stay away?
We have all heard the expression, “the squeaky wheel gets the oil” and it is very true. It is sometimes so true that we treat the quiet wheel like it doesn’t exist at all.
Pay attention to silence. Look for absence. Seek out inactivity. Pay attention.