Saturday, October 19, 2019

What’s in a Name?

My husband and I have season tickets to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Every time we attend a concert, a man is standing out near the parking deck playing his trumpet. Far from a professional, he plays a couple lines from a variety of songs as people pass on the way to Orchestra Hall. Rain or shine. Snow or sweltering heat. He is there. Every concert.

Except the last one.

As we walked past “his spot” I noticed his silent absence. Throughout the concert I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to him. Was he ill? What if he died? What if…

It was amid the questions that I realized I didn’t even know his name.

Sure, we had dropped money in his tattered trumpet case and smiled as we walked past, but I knew nothing about him. I never told him his presence brought a bit of joy to every concert. It made me sad to think that after all these years, I had never taken the time to know his name or thank him.
The concert ended and as we walked outside, I could hear the broken notes of his trumpet. I felt a sense gratitude for this second chance. I went up to him and asked his name.

“Frank” he replied. I told him how much I had appreciated seeing him. A smile spread across his face and he said, “Well thank you and may God bless you.”

It got me thinking. How many others in my day do I just pass by? How many go unnoticed? How often do I let people know how much I appreciate them?

Scriptures assure us that God knows us intimately. Even the hairs on our heads are numbered (Luke 12:7; Matthew 10:30). He calls us each by name (Isaiah 43:1). God assures us we are precious in His eyes and honored, and He loves us (Isaiah 43:4). Our God is a God of relationships. Created in the image and likeness of God, we are called to be in relationship not only with God—but with each other. To call each other by name.

What would happen if we kept our eyes open to those around us? To the mother struggling to push her shopping cart while holding a sleeping infant? To the elderly man trying to open a door while hanging on to his walker? To the homeless person we would rather avoid? To the tattooed young adult asking for directions at the gas station? To our spouse? To our parents? To our children?

I was met by a man outside the St. Therese Chapel who was asking for money to pay his phone bill. I was on my way to a meeting and really wanted to keep walking, but I thought of Frank. I turned. Facing him, he repeated his plea. I asked him his name. “David” he replied. “Not the king, just David.” He laughed. I joked that we are all sons and daughters of the king. We both laughed. I gave him a couple of dollars but also asked if he wanted prayers. He eagerly accepted. We both promised to pray for each other.

Jesus calls us His friend. David and Frank are the most recent reminders to me that we are called to take notice. To be aware of the people around us and to reach out as Jesus did in friendship. The beauty of all of this is that when we do, we will be blessed by the encounter in ways far greater than we can ever anticipate.

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