I recently spent time with some people around whom I often feel invisible. Sometimes they choose to acknowledge me. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes I'm part of the conversation, engaged and laughing. Other times, I begin to speak and eyes turn away, starting new conversations as if I'm not even there. It happened twice just last night, as we were sitting around the table at a restaurant: I would have someone's eye contact, begin speaking, and watch them shift their gaze and join in on a conversation with the person next to me. It is a horrible feeling, a potpourri of sadness and loneliness and anger, especially when it is a group of people among whom you are supposed to belong. Eventually, you just want to stop talking altogether.
Later, I realized something: My evening around that dinner table gave me a taste of a feeling that some people experience every day. It has left me thinking about those in the world who spend every day overlooked and unacknowledged. I think of the homeless, who are often left wandering as nameless, storyless men and women whom no one cares to know. I think of those in lower socio-economic brackets, whose voices are seldom heard by any of those in power. They are not greeted as quickly and with the same friendliness by store employees. They are denied many opportunities that people like me so often take for granted.
Being invisible for one day--not even a full day--can feel crushing. I can't imagine living my whole life in that place. I find myself, in these moments of perpective, called back to the words in Proverbs that have challenged me all year : "Speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves..." That has meant so many things to me over the past several months. Tonight, it calls me simply to this:
I want the kind of heart that refuses to make others feel invisible. I want to really see people, and for them to know that they are seen. May God grant me the grace, despite all my selfishness, to truly begin to live my life that way.