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7 February 2024

By Glenna Henry from Columbia, Missouri, USA

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

Colossians 3:12

A pleasant clerk stood behind the counter as I checked out after shopping one afternoon. My purchases included four small, scented jar candles to be used as gifts. As she scanned the candles, the clerk commented on how nice they smelled, and I explained that they were for my sisters. When she asked how many sisters I have, she was surprised when I told her four. Then I explained that my husband also has one sister, but I couldn’t give her a candle because her husband has emphysema and cannot be around strong scents. The clerk immediately responded that she had lost her mother to emphysema a few months earlier and strong scents had bothered her a lot. My heart was touched, and I shared that I had watched a friend die a lingering death due to emphysema some years ago and it was a terrible way to end life. Her eyes teared up as she agreed that it was.

Just a brief touchpoint since I did not learn the clerk’s name, but our lives connected on a level deeper than the ordinary as we met in that moment of understanding. How often we miss those touchpoint moments because we are too busy or distracted to pick up on them and therefore a meaningful connection to the life of another goes unnoticed. Someone who once met former President Bill Clinton said one of Clinton’s gifts was his remarkable ability to focus completely on who he was speaking with so that person felt they were truly heard.

Perhaps Jesus was able to do just that, and perhaps one of Jesus’ lessons to the Apostles was the simple message to be fully aware of what was going on in the lives of those around them. Jesus calls us today to be aware of those around us; to listen with our hearts, not just to their words, but to their pain and their often-silent cries for understanding. If we hear with our spiritual ears, then we can discern the real meaning beneath a person’s words and are able to sense and understand their need. The Mission Prayer speaks volumes about Christ’s call to us:

God, where will your Spirit lead today?
Help me be fully awake and ready to respond.
Grant me the courage to risk something new
and become a blessing of your love and peace. Amen.

In this day of isolationism due in part to electronic communication, perhaps it would be well to put aside those devices at times to look into others’ eyes, hear their voices, and listen with our spiritual ears to be fully engaged with them. May we have the courage to look into the eyes of those we meet and allow God’s spirit in us to respond to the spirit in them. Be blessed with new and renewed joy as you bless others.

Prayer Phrase

“…he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love” (Lamentations 3:32).

Spiritual Practice

Breathing God’s Compassion

Light a candle and sit quietly, reflecting on the fire and light of God. Pay attention to your breathing and let it become calmer and deeper as you focus on God’s presence. Ask God to breathe in you. Image each breath carrying the light of God into your lungs, bloodstream, and every cell in your body until God’s Spirit fills you. Now imagine breathing out God’s compassion and grace each time you exhale. Pray to have the Spirit of Christ radiate from your life like the gentle flame of a candle.

Today’s Prayer for Peace

Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.

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