"At the funeral of a beloved rabbi, a younger man who had just recently begun his studies with the rabbi turned to one of those who had been a disciple for decades. "What most mattered to our rabbi?" the young man asked. The older disciple smiled and answered, "Whomever he was with at the moment."
Consider this passage for just a moment. Think about how it must have felt to be in the presence of someone like the beloved rabbi. How special you would have felt, how important. Consider for just a moment how precious it feels to know that you are loved. That you, your life, is cherished by someone.
Now, think for a moment about the people in your life. How might they feel when they are in your presence? Do they feel important and know how much they matter? Do they experience the same security, peace, and warmth that someone might have felt with the rabbi? And when they are not with you, do they still know that you care? What if you learned that they do not feel this way? That what matters most to you is you? Ask yourself, how do you pay attention to those that matter in your life?
To pay attention is to show that we care. Really, it is the most basic expression of love that we can show other people. Paying attention to someone shows that your hand is outreached to them. That you want to touch their life, and that, in turn, you want to be touched by them. Paying attention tells someone, “I care about you. I love you. You matter.”
So, what if we have missed an opportunity to pay attention to someone? Does that mean that we have failed or that we did not care? No, it does not. Rather, it simply means that a chance was missed, for whatever reason, to say, “I care about you.” If you have ever missed such an opportunity, and we all have, it might serve you well to take another look inside of yourself and ask, “What is going on that has prevented me from paying attention?” If you are able to ask yourself this kind of question, I trust that you will also be able to find an answer. And I bet that answer will be enlightening to you.
No matter how you pay attention to people, I would like to encourage you to be especially mindful today of if you are paying attention and how you are showing it.
Take an extra moment to reach out your hand and allow yourself to touch someone with your love. Pay a little bit more attention today. Engage yourself with others, and allow yourself to be touched by their love. Show someone just how important they are to you. Remind them that you are here, that they are not alone, that they can do it. If you are able to do this, I think you will find that that person will become more alive to you. That you can see life through their eyes, not just your own. Reach out your hand and give someone your love. Show those around you that they matter. You never know the impact you just might have.