This morning we had a few visitors who braved the sleet and snow to visit the Ranch. When we entered the Learning Center Chris, as he often does, approached them clutching his photo album.
He proffered the album to a woman in the group, and she asked his name. “Chri-to-pha,” he answered and immediately opened the album and pointed to a picture of himself as a baby. She admired this and other pictures as he pointed out and named “Mommy,” “Dad,” “Nana,” and “Brother Andy.”
I often think of how we go through life finding different ways to say to the world, “Here I am. I exist. This is me.”
We interweave the threads of our lives with those of others to create a pattern like no other, one that proclaims, “This is who I am.”
This is what I see Chris doing when he appears with his album, and I am pleased that the visitor sees its importance and hangs back from the rest of the group to spend a few minutes learning about Chris and who he is.
So often volunteers are eager to “do things” for our Ranchers, and Lord knows we appreciate the things they do. But more precious still are those who sit down and make the effort to get to know them, to struggle with their unclear speech, and to wait patiently for the elements of their story to come together.
And isn’t that what we all really want?
More than wanting someone to “fix” something for us, we want them to hear us, and acknowledge what they’ve heard us say. It’s the “I-Thou” that Buber talked about.
You are the witness to my life, and I am the witness to yours.