Earlier this year I found myself at an English lecture I didn’t particularly want to attend. There was a guest speaker that day, and enough people that everyone felt safe pulling out their phones and laptops under the guise of taking notes.
I looked around me at the man on the front row playing a game on his phone. How rude, I thought, as I pulled up an ebook.
At least have the class to hide your disinterest.
It was in that moment that I had a flash of light.
That woman, the guest lecturer, had taken her time to come to this classroom. She had put together a presentation, she had invested her thought and expertise and bad jokes into this. The very least I could do was give her the courtesy I would want to receive.
Attention. A laugh. A raised hand. A thank you at the end.
I put away my ebook and my laptop and dutifully listened for the next two hours.
The content wasn’t anything that overly interested me, and the presentation itself didn’t change me much. But that choice, that moment of light, did.
It feels like the type of thing Anne Lamott would write about. She would say something along the lines of–as human beings in this broken world, all we can do for one another is show up.
All we can do is listen attentively, to give our time and interest to another human being. To treat them with respect, even if it’s slightly unenthusiastically at first.
This is where grace and mercy and healing starts.
I understood that, for a moment that day.
It took me 29 years, but I understood it then.