“Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake … or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly.” – Mark 13:33-36 (NRSV)
When she was two-and-a-half, my daughter wasn’t talking much. To ease her frustration with communication, we taught her signs for words like “milk” and “clean up.” She created her own signs for the things she really wanted, like “music” and “animal crackers.”
Nonverbal communication is more demanding than speech. I couldn’t passively listen to her while focusing on something else. And she knew it. When she had something to say and my head was turned away from her in conversation with someone else or (too often) in communion with my iPhone, she placed her hand on my cheek and steered my face toward hers until she knew she had my undivided attention.
God’s Beloved Community, too, requires our focus. We’ve been given work to do in this interim time—the work of justice and peace—and we can’t participate in it with less than everything we’ve got.
God is always gently but firmly redirecting our gaze. Away from all the shiny distractions that have turned our heads and back to what is important, what is alive. God calls us—sometimes with the grabby hands of a toddler—to set aside everything else and give our undivided attention to the one who has something beautiful and essential to communicate to us. Like music. Or animal crackers.
Or maybe good news for all people that will not be ignored.
Speak Lord, your servant is watching.
Vince Amlin contributed this devotional to Hard and Holy: Devotions for Parenting, a collection of devotionals for the spiritual practice of raising, teaching, learning from, delighting in, and cleaning up after children. Order Hard and Holy today.