“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encouraging one another; especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrew 10:24-25 (NLT)
“One’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion.”—Simone De Beauvoir
They have arrived, via text, nearly daily for two weeks. Daily devotionals sent my way courtesy of a family friend. Some of the readings are better than others, but all brighten my day simply because this person is trying to offer a bit of positivity and inspiration into my day. However, there are times, due to their length, that I cannot read them at the time they are sent because my schedule varies significantly from his. Therefore, I often do not read get to read the devotional until bedtime. I figure, regardless of the time of day, it is still a worthwhile task.
Task: job, chore, responsibility, undertaking . . . My day is filled with mental and written lists of things to do. In fact, I start my day by looking over the post-it note of goals for the day and week listed the prior afternoon/evening before leaving work. Even still, driving to work, my mind is already scrolling through thoughts of what I will do when I first arrive, followed by what I will do next, followed by the next task, and so on. The same is true for my planning period without students, my time after school, my time driving home. However, the one so-called responsibility that I most value is that of encouraging.
To that end, however, there are times; I am so overwhelmed by the sheer volume of paperwork, computer tasks of documentation and communication, and the constraints of deadlines and times, that I misplace my priorities. Thus, one recent night, as I rested in bed before turning off the light, finally reading the daily devotional sent to me, I came to face-to-face with what I love to preach, but allow the noise of the must-dos to hypnotize me into forgetting: encourage is a verb.
Reading the words from Hebrews 10: 24-25, there was my reminder in black and white. “Let us think of ways to motivate one another . . ..” Boy does the world need that now, more than ever. Distractions abound all around. From the dings of texts to the bleeps of another email filling the inbox; from a screen flash of a calendar reminder of an upcoming event to another job-related task/deadline added to the reminder app; and, from rushing off to fulfill another commitment/appointment to bustling away from the work desk in order to acquire at least some time to maintain certain living rituals, it seems everyday life often creates both outer and inner noise that fill, and sometimes even, numbs us to the value of a kind word, a gentle pat/hug/embrace, or even a genuine smile that truly offers a moment of encouragement.
Two days later, after mulling over this devotion, I was seated in a yoga class, that I was teaching, sharing the following words before beginning the practice: “You are not there. You are here. Be here. Be all here.” As I saw the words sink-in and resonate with the students around me, I began to shift inwardly as my own inner ear perked up. Hmm . . .I hate it when my own words teach me as the weight of what I was sharing wrapped around my heart like my favorite warm, softly fuzzy sweatshirt. Be. All. Here. And, how does that fit into encouragement as a verb?
As that day progressed, and really, into the next day, the words kept returning like the peal of the 5:00 pm church bells along 5th Ave in Huntington, WV. Family, and a couple of my daughter’s friends, was gathering at my home that evening. Be. All. Here. Encouragement.
I would like to write a picture perfect ending stating that I spent the rest of the weekend in perfect presence with all who were visiting my house. Additionally, I would like to say that I floated about my home offering wise words of wisdom and encouragement to all. Cue the rousing and heart-wrenching music, but that would NOT be true.
Still, I was keenly aware of the sweet sensation of an arm around a waist, the warmth of an embrace, the way smiles and laughter are contagious, and the special buzzing sensation that comes with conversation among and between people who are genuinely interested in supporting and uplifting one another. By the last good-bye around noon on Sunday, as John smiled broadly, wrapped me up in his arms, and said, “Ah, Steph, this was a good weekend,” it felt full-circle-good.
We had done nothing great, nothing fancy, and offered no great life-changing words. Instead, we opened our home, we offered our hearts, we shared a simple meal or two, and swapped a gaggle of stories and laughter. That is the magic dust for forming memories. My stack of ungraded papers never changed. This piece I am now writing, had yet to be written. Several loads of laundry were still in need of tackling. Weeds still needed pulled. Dust and dirt weren’t disappearing. And, somehow, none of it mattered . . ..
Ok, so, yes, as I write this, I am already worried, anxious, and a bit stressed about the to-dos, but I would not change a thing. Not. One. Thing.