Today’s post is by Kimberlee Conway Ireton, author of The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year and a newly released memoir, Cracking Up: A Postpartum Faith Crisis. Please forgive her wondering words today. She’s been reading too much N.D. Wilson.
Today’s post is being simultaneously published over on Godspace. Please forgive its wondering words. I’ve been reading too much N.D. Wilson.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them?
Psalm 8:3-4, ESV
A little girl with bobbed red hair, dressed head to toe in pink—she’s even carrying a pink backpack—just walked in the door of the café where I sit. She’s holding the hand of a middle-aged Latina woman.
A dark-haired young woman sits at the table across from mine. She taps away at her MacBook keyboard and sips a green smoothie.
Outside, a motorcycle rolls to a stop at the curb. Its tanned and tattooed rider flexes his forearm muscles in the autumn sun as he revs his engine and turns the corner.
The number two bus turns the corner. A blonde toddler hanging onto her mother’s hand crosses the street behind it. The mother’s booted feet strike the pavement with the force of hurry.
A boy only slightly older than my eldest and with hair the same color, crosses the street during a lull in the trickling traffic. His blue backpack bounces up and down in rhythm with his steps.
Cars roll to a stop at the four-way stop sign. Each car holds a driver, maybe some passengers. Each of those drivers, each passenger, each passerby on the sidewalk has a story, a place they’ve come from, a place they’re going.
Do you ever stop to wonder just how remarkable that is?
Do you ever stop to think that God knows each of their stories, those places they’re leaving and the places they’re heading for?
Do you ever ponder how deeply God loves the teenager with the lacrosse stick who’s walking past you? The middleschooler with her violin case? The shortest of the three boys crossing the street, the one wearing neon green athletic shoes? And his two companions, too?
Do you ever sit in awe at the incomprehensible enormity of a God who knows each of these passing strangers by name, who numbers the very hairs of their heads?
Do you ever marvel at the terrible odds against their paths and yours ever crossing? And the even greater odds against such a chance passing occurring on a Wednesday afternoon when the sun is shining and the air shimmers blue? (This is Seattle in October, after all.)
Do you ever smile at a total stranger and receive a smile in return? Do you pause to thank God for that moment of connection, that thread of communion, that tiny foretaste of a feast of friendship to come, not today or tomorrow or even in this life, but forever?
Do you ever wonder, if, when you reach the shores of that eternal land, the stranger who smiled at you on this blessed ordinary Wednesday afternoon will recognize you and you her and your hearts will leap for joy that you have known each other before?
Do you ever fall on your face in awe over the fact that anything at all exists, let alone you with your particular story, your past that leads to someone else’s past to someone else’s all the way back to the foundation of the world? Do you ever stop to think just how unlikely the particular combination of atoms that is you actually is?
Do you ever stop to ponder the God who formed each of your atoms from stardust and breathed life into them so that you could sit here in this café where strangers sip green smoothies at the next table and pass by outside the window? Do you see them? Every last one of them sitting, walking, driving, smoothie-drinking, stroller-pushing, boot-wearing, violin-carrying, inspirited stardust.
And when you finally see them for the glorious creatures that they are, do you ever say a prayer of blessing over them? Do you ever ask for their good? Do you ever pray for the glory that is in them to shine forth, blazing starlight into the darkness of a shattered world?
Do you ever stop? Do you ever see? Do you ever touch your stardust skin and raise your face to the starlit sky and cry glory?
image credit: NASA/ESA/STScI