When I was in my early teens, a new minister came to our church. Our family was actively involved in the church and my father wanted to invite him to dinner… but he was concerned about having the minister in our home because he had a large red nose with a mole on one side that was the color of dirty silly-putty. Our father was afraid that one of his five children would say something about the minister’s nose that would be hurtful to the minister and humiliating for him and our mother.
When he shared his concern with her, our mother told him not to worry, that she would give each of us something else on which to focus.
Having the minister as a guest was an important event for our family. I remember our mother planning the meal, polishing the silver, setting the table with her special dishes and making a centerpiece with the soft pink peonies she picked from her garden. I also remember that shortly before the minister arrived she called the five of us to her.
She asked if we remembered what she had taught us to do when we saw someone with a handicap and we nodded. Our mother had taught us not to stare, to look the person in the eye and smile at them. She had taught us to do whatever we could to make them feel comfortable and good about themselves… and then, once we had passed them by, she had taught us to say a little prayer for them in our heart.
When she was satisfied that we remembered, she told us about the minister’s nose. Then she gave each of us something to talk about or listen for, so we could participate in making him feel welcomed and comfortable in our home.
I don’t remember the minister’s nose. What I remember is that he had a wonderful sense of humor and the ability to make even the shyest of us, which was probably me, feel smart and funny. I also remember our parents, sitting at opposite ends of the table… and how relaxed and confident and proud they seemed.
When we finished the meal, I remember how the five of us cleared the dishes, carried plates of still-warm apple pie into the dining room and put our mother’s best cups and saucers at her end of the table.
I remember how sweetly she smiled as she poured the first cup of tea for our guest. I remember the gracious way she leaned forward just a little… and then I remember the softness and kindness in her voice as she said, “Mr. Peterson, would you like cream or sugar in your nose?”
…..and that is how I came to believe that WHAT WE FOCUS ON IS WHAT WE SEE.
As this New Year begins, let us join together in our resolve to change our focus just a little. May we look for and acknowledge the gifts we are given and the good and precious moments in our daily life. May we focus on finding small opportunities to touch the lives of others… with something as simple as a smile, a nod, a kind act or word. In the midst of our sometimes troubled and tremulous world, let us remember to focus on finding what is healing and possible…. And may we continually remember that WHAT WE FOCUS ON IS INDEED WHAT WE SEE.
Bringing the Magic of Possibility into Your Home and Your Life