Saturday, December 5, 2009

In Plain Sight

My sister and I walked past the sheet covered object a thousand times. The sheet was plain, ordinary and boring ... for two little girls anyway. There were many other things that held our interest. So, we paid little attention to the fact that something might be under the sheet ... something special.

This memory is from a Christmas in my childhood. My sister and I had begged our parents for the "Barbie Doll Dreamhouse." It had been on every commercial and every magazine advertisement for weeks and ... it was at the top of our Christmas wish list. On Christmas morning, we woke and ran to the livingroom. There in front of our tree sat the object of our wishes.

Years later, Mom told me of the way she saved to buy that dreamhouse and then hid it beneath a sheet. The dreamhouse was too big for her to hide in a closet or beneath a bed. So, she put it together and draped a bedsheet over it until Christmas Eve. Right there, in plain sight.

As Mom talked about this special memory, I began thinking about other things hidden in plain sight. Things I pass each day and never really take the time to think about what lies beneath the surface.

Things like ... the young mother struggling with her little ones at the grocery store. Maybe her husband is working long hours, she's exhausted and just wishes someone would help instead of stare at her as she tells her youngest for the third time to stand still.

Maybe the older woman who interrupts your coffee break. She might just want to reminisce about her husband who passed away last month. She misses him and wants someone to care that she is lonely.

What about that man who sits in the back pew of your church every Sunday. He's there when you walk in and there when you walk out ... do you know his name? He tries to look you in the eye, but you walk away ... you're in a hurry to get wherever you might be going. He wants someone to say "Good Morning" to him, he wants someone to notice that he gets up every Sunday, walks to church from 5 blocks away and then walks back. It's cold outside... have you ever thought of giving him a ride home?

On the outside, these things are ordinary and plain. On the inside, they have so much to offer.

The young mother is a great listener. She would love to listen while you talk about your day, your struggles and life in general. She would drop everything to pray with you.

That elderly woman in the coffee shop, she was a teacher for 45 years. If you stopped to listen to her, you would find out that she taught your Dad in school and she would tell you all the great memories she has of him.

The man in the back of your church, he's a plumber and would help you when your pipes burst in the dead of winter. When you ask how much you owe him for the job, he'll tell you nothing ... because he recognizes you from the choir in church. He loves to listen to you sing and thanks you for sharing your gift every Sunday morning.

During the course of our everyday lives, we walk past thousands of people. Do we take the time to see them? I mean, really see them? Do we stop and look beyond the exterior to find the special things hidden underneath?

I don't ... I'm usually too busy. I hurry in and out of the grocery store, I want/need to get home to my husband and boys. I tell myself that I'll stop and talk to that young mother if I see her again. I'm annoyed when someone interrupts my coffee break, I think I need the quiet time more than I need the conversation with that elderly woman. I look away and hurry past the man sitting at the back of the church. I have a thousand things on my "to do" list ... I don't have time to stop and talk with him.

Eight years ago, I was flat on my back in a hospital bed. There were doctors and nurses scurrying around, trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I spent a week in that bed. I went through multiple tests and screenings. I was exhausted, afraid .... I woke up after being sedated for a test. My vision was blurry and my body felt like it was floating. I could hear a soft, low voice whispered in prayer. When my vision cleared, there stood at the side of my bed ... a man no one ever notices from our church. He's the man everyone rushes past to avoid. I had never spoken to him, never taken the time to get to know him ... BUT ... He took the time to drive 30 minutes from his home to stand by the bed of a person who never took the time for him.

Will you take the time today? I will ...

Matthew 5:13-14 "You are the salt of the earth'; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house."


  1. Great post!

    You have an award on arise 2 write.

  2. Powerful post, Aine. The old man sounds like a sweetheart. May we always take the time to see the people He puts in our path.

    Are these pictures from your family album? I love the way you connect the past with the present.

  3. Grace and Peace, thanks for stopping by and reading my post. This picture is of my big sis at about 2 years old. My Grandpa is Santa and the woman is my Grandma.

    God Bless :)

  4. Grandpa is Santa! How cute is that?
    Thanks for your comment on my post, too. Yes, I'm excited but the enemy is not wasting time waging his battle. We shall overcome!

  5. Aine,
    I cried as I read your post. It was absolutely beautiful and a great reminder to all of us as our lives become so consumed with busyness that we don't take the time to really notice the things and people around us. It truly is far more blessed to give than receive. Thank you for your beautiful reminder. It's a reminder that we can remember every day of the year, but especially poignant during this Christmas season.
    Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  6. What a beautiful post! It really made me stop and think about things. I've always said you never know what someone is dealing with in their life.
    Thank you for sharing this!
    Deborah M.