Start There

I recently wrote about my meeting Kristi as a part of the van ministry for Freedom Fellowship, the church I worship with on Wednesday nights. Since then our relationship has grown. Having met her I starting looking for Kristi at church on Sundays. And I've started to visit her at her assisted-living home.

If you didn't read that earlier post, Kristi is blind and in a wheelchair. Our church auditorium is hard to navigate if you are in a wheelchair. So I found Kristi on the first Sunday I was looking for her along the back wall, by herself.

"Do you sit with anyone?" I asked after we had visited for a bit.

"No, I don't have any friends to sit with," she replied.

"Do you like sitting back here?"

"No," she said. "I get lonely. Plus, when people walk by they bump into me and step on my feet. But I don't mind."

The space along the wall at the back of the auditorium is very tight and after services it gets pretty congested. A wheelchair in this small space is an issue, so I could see people accidentally bumping into Kristi or inadvertently stepping on her feet. Not anyone's fault. Just a tight space.

"Well, would you like to sit with my family? Jana, Brenden, Aidan and I?"

"Yes. I'd like that a lot."

And so that's what we are doing. Kristi sits with us. We found a space--with the help of Dickie and Jim--where Kristi can sit alongside our family in the auditorium.

This is not a particularly heroic act. It's a small and simple thing, sitting with someone at church. An example of "the little way."

I mainly share this to ponder how we see the world, or don't see it. I've been going to Highland for years and I never saw Kristi.

How did I eventually see her? I started asking myself this question: "If Jesus is 'the least of these' who might that be in the Highland auditorium?"

The answer came: How about, there, with Kristi?

With the blind girl, being stepped on, without a friend to sit with, alone in the wheelchair.

Start there.


I wrote this post about two months ago. Since then I've discovered that Kristi wasn't as "unseen" by the Highland family as I had assumed and as she had described that day. To be sure, Kristi is not widely sought out or spoken to. But there is a small group of people at Highland, mainly those associated with the Freedom Fellowship crew, who know Kristi and approach her for conversation.

Regardless, I want to be clear that this post isn't about how Highland did or didn't see Kristi but how I, Richard, never saw Kristi. And that now I do.

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10 thoughts on “Start There”

  1. Thank you,

    Good to hear about a life of small things, and of our corporate interdependence.

  2. I always feel ambivalent about sharing posts like these. It's just an outright violation of "do not practice your righteousness before others." And the "righteousness" here is very, very small.

    I share stuff like this just to be an encouragement. To tell stories of my own small, frail and tentative steps toward being more like Jesus in the hope that someone might try to do something similar and bigger.

    Also, I'm asked a lot, when I speak about Unclean, about how to put the book into practice. A month ago I was speaking at Southern Nazarene University--an amazing and awesome group of faculty and students in that Psychology Department--and was asked that question. And my answer was this: "There is someone in your world right now--someone at work or school or church or neighborhood--who you can welcome. Find that person and welcome them." And then I shared this story about Kristi. Which is why I shared it with you.

  3. This doesn't come off as if you are trying to puff yourself up or look like a saint. It's a humble example of what love looks like in the world, and I think we could use all the examples we can get, especially in the little way. So, thank you.

  4. I agree with Jessica. You're making a point, not trying to get points. I think sometimes we overwhelm ourselves with trying to figure the really big way we can make the world better. But more often than not, it's in really small ways that we can make the world better.

    I was in a Tuesday night discussion group at my church and befriended a woman. And I could swear I recognized her from somewhere. That "somewhere" turns out to be the evening news and the local papers. She was one of the key people in a sort of high profile (locally) "white collar-ish" crime. When I put it all together I actually said aloud, "wow God, you're really serious about this 'least of these' stuff." When I arrived for our next discussion group, I made sure to sit next to her.

    Incidentally, I was at a wedding on Friday at an Episcopal Church. The reception was in the basement and when some of the attendees saw a homeless man sitting on the church steps, they invited him in. Now that's my kind of wedding.

  5. Beautiful - thank-you.

    In this freedom, we no longer serve idols in our work or other experiences; we serve the living God. We work in the service of life, for ourselves and for our fellow human beings. We work to re-establish human life in our relationships with ourselves and others and things in our society, anticipating in hope the final restoration where God will be "all in all."

  6. The other highlight was seeing a framed poster that said, "He died to take away your sins. Not your mind."
    I love these people.

  7. I like this as an example of the 'little way' and of the thought/heart process that precedes it. Don't fear being misjudged by sharing this. No-one who has spent any time at ET would read this as self-edification. I did appreciate the postscript though. Not that I was thinking that, but I can imagine someone closer to your community reading it from that angle. Peace.

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