At some point in any given week for the past two years, I’ve parked my electric car in the garage of a shopping center that has free chargers, gone upstairs and parked my, uh, self in a chair and sipped on a chai latte or a coffee with a shot of peppermint, read emails, make phone calls and, like an anthropologist parked behind a shrub, watched the people who enter and leave the Starbucks. Before I make my larger point, I do want to offer one aside about this experience and what I have observed: in our post-modern consumer culture, individuals flock like spoonbills on a river cul-de-sac and while they are together and some are taking in conversation, most are plugged into ear plugs, plugged into phones, plugged into the parallel universe of the internet. I’d call such a gathering a collection but I wouldn’t call it communion. There is something about us and our alienated existences that beckons to us from such a scene. And there is a lesson as regards the communion and communal aspects of Church that compels us to think deeply about human nature and the Gospel.
So one day this past week, while sitting in a corner with what I think I remember to be a “flat white” in one hand and my iPhone opened to a kindle app, reading a book by the philosopher David Bentley Hart (God) in the other, I watched as a little girl, perhaps six years old, stood on a ledge near the door in her pink rain boots. Her mother was sitting at a bar along the glass window keeping watch. The door would open and then this child would give a little wave to the persons who entered and say, “Hi! I’m the greeter.” Singlehandedly this child–and as all children she was a pillar of light–dialed up the happiness quotient in that room. People smiled, people giggled, and some stopped to chat with her.
Last week, I challenged us to calculate our presence. This child did no overt calculation that I could see. She simply was herself, greeting persons with joy. I thank God I was able to witness her radiance sparking across the room of the caffeinated. You have light in you. The scriptures say as much. Got light? As the song says, let it shine. Such presence is nearly incalculable. ~See you Sunday.