Grace and peace to you all in this Advent season!
Someone has just sent me an email complaint from a mother who felt that she had become invisible to her children and her husband. They seemed to see, not a person, but a source of food, clean clothes, and assorted help: “Can you fix this?” “Can you tie this?” “Can you open this?” At other times she felt like a mere clock, a car, or a TV guide. The sense of “no one seeing” afflicts more than just busy mothers. You may remember the climactic scene in the movie Joy Luck Club when the dutiful daughter finally cries out to her mother, “You never SEE me.” And that same “no one seeing” is what drives the belief – we learn it young -- that even negative attention is better than none.
This sense of invisibility is especially trying in a community of faith: hard when we feel our individual efforts have no effect, harder when we fear that our collective witness as disciples of Jesus Christ is invisible to the world, and perhaps even to God.
The troubled Mom in my email is comforted when a friend gives her a beautiful book about European cathedrals, “with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.” The book reminds her that builders were often anonymous, and few lived to see their work finished, but they worked with passion because they believed that God saw – what even generations of worshipers would not and could not see, tiny details of carving, detailed mosaics, far over anyone’s head. “Why do you take the trouble over something no one will ever see?” “Because God sees.”
Part of the joy of this season, part of the blessing of the birth of Christ, is its assurance to us that “God sees”; like the mother in Joy Luck Club, who proves to her daughter that she DOES see, God sees us, and is delighted to see us—not peering anxiously to catch us doing wrong, but noting graciously all our fumbling attempts to want to be the people he created; all our stumbling choices for life over death, for faith over fear, for hope, for peace, for joy, for love. God, we may be sure, hangs around to see how it all turns out. God has the patience for outcomes beyond our imaginings.
So let us hope, make peace, rejoice, and love one another with confidence in the sight of God, walking forward steadily together into the New Year.
In this season, I wish you all joy and peace in believing!