A Trilogy: Closer Contact of the Needful Kind (part one)
By John Bonney of Springfield, OR, USA
Heed the urgent call to become a global family united in the name of the Christ, committed in love to one another, seeking the kingdom for which you yearn and to which you have always been summoned. That kingdom shall be a peaceable one and it shall be known as Zion. —Doctrine and Covenants 161:6b
Shalom—Right Next to Me
A couple gathered some bakery items and other snacks at a market. I learned later they were preparing the food for a group gathering for a workshop. As they stood in the check-out line, the man offered friendly jokes and words of encouragement to those around him, a gift he shares to uplift those around him.
However, the line was long, and because the clerk was responding to the man’s witty exchange, the check-out progress had slowed. I stood toward the back of the line and mumbled that I wished the line would move along. After all, I had other tasks to do and a schedule to keep. I made a few sarcastic and sour comments to people near me. “I was much younger when I got in this line.” They mumbled their agreement. The couple finished their check out, said their goodbyes, and left. And the line moved forward.
The couple left the store employee a bit more uplifted than before. There is a positive effect when we recognize someone as a person, not just a “checker.” In so doing the man affirmed a person’s worth. “You are a person worth taking the time to talk to.”
At the same time, I succeeded in making people around me a bit more grumpy and impatient. The couple noticed the value and worth of the checker. At the same time, I noticed nothing other than the delay while I waited. Not only did I not appreciate the couple or the checker, but I also missed the radiance the people around me might have emitted. I did not see the presence of God in the created beings standing right next to me. What do you mean, Namaste? Shalom—so what?
I think of the psalmist, the preacher, King Solomon himself, who all commented on the brevity of life and the seeming inconsequence of anything we have been or done. We all pass on, remembered for a time, and then disappear from the minds, thoughts, and histories of others.
But during the time I am here, how do I want people to remember me? Will I be the person who tries to uplift or the one who darkens the day? We are all a mixture of the uplifter and the down-pusher. It depends on the moment and our commitment to the peaceable kingdom.
Prayer for Peace
Lift us from grumpiness, God. Lighten our hearts. Fill our words with love and compassion for the stranger and friend alike.
Spiritual Practice: Honoring the Worth of All Persons
Read Psalm 139:13–18. After reading, sit quietly and let the words sink deeply into your mind, heart, and body. What thoughts and feelings do you have about being “fearfully and wonderfully made”?
Sense the intimate knowledge and love God has for you and everyone. Be aware of the sacred worth of each person. Weep with God over the soul-wounding forces and events that rob people of dignity and worth. How does God invite you to notice, protect, heal, and affirm the spiritual identity of all God’s beloved people today? Pray for God’s compassion.
Today, God, peace will overflow from my heart and spill onto those standing in line with me.