Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. (Matthew 10)
Yesterday morning I met David. He was in a parking lot, sitting on one of those car-width long, six-inch high, concrete wheel-blocks that are at the front of all the parking stalls. His block was in a handicapped stall.
He looked tired and sad, not like that’s new for guys on the street. I expected him to ask me for money. He didn’t, and I realized that he wasn’t asking anyone for money; only looking up at passers-by from time to time. It was his way, I guessed. I walked past him, but then stopped, and asked him how he was.
Things, of course, had been better. We talked for a while, maybe fifteen minutes. He was clear-eyed, well-spoken, had been clean for a “time”. When we parted we exchanged names and I wished him success as he was a newcomer to Edmonton. Then he smiled at me and I took it as sincere and natural. Perhaps my estimation of that is too optimistic, but I sensed that I made him feel, at least to a degree, that he mattered.
I read in a Madeleine L’Engle book that the reason astrology was so popular–and still is in some corners–is that your day of birth, even the hour and minute of the day you were born, matters. By inference of course, you matter.
I don’t think there is anything so empty as feeling that you do not matter. I’m repeating a thousand other counselors, pastors, writers, in stating the obvious, but we all want, no, need, to matter. It occurs to me that the obvious needs restating…perhaps so that it stays “obvious”. Because this is something that in practice, in giving and receiving, too quickly slips us by.
David needed somebody to talk to. He did not need instruction, or counsel, or a “cheery” good-morning, the kind I’ve given often enough as a way to dismiss my-supposedly-busy-self from contact. There will be a time for counsel and direction but just then, David simply needed to hear a human voice. That’s my take anyway.
And about the verse? Jesus’ words about “sparrows and numbering hairs” only makes sense when we are able to connect them to some experience of having-mattered-to-someone.