For Part 1, click here
For Part 2, click here
Once they take their places on stage, it only takes most of these kids a few seconds to find their friends and family members who have come to the concert. I wave to my kids and give them a big thumbs-up. Some may frown upon this behavior and consider it tacky or uncouth or whatever. Take it or leave it, but if one of my kids ever takes the stage at Carnegie Hall I am going to wave and give him or her a thumbs up there, too. More than anything, I want them to know I’m there and that I want them to succeed.
When I wave to my kid and throw the thumbs-up, my heart breaks. I look at the mass choir on the stage and I see so many kids still looking for their personal audience. I see them look where they sat last time. I see them look up front first and then their eyes move to the back. I see them start on one side of the crowd and scan across to the other.
I see kids looking for and never finding someone.
Then my heart breaks even more. For each kid who hopes to see someone, there’s another one who knows they will not. They don’t scan the crowd even a single time. There’s no hopeful gaze as they look out into the audience. The comfort they find comes at their own feet or from the music teacher.
I see kids who don’t even bother looking.
Then I want to do jumping jacks. Then I want to whistle and blow an air horn and stand on my chair and yell names until I find theirs. Then I want to do whatever it takes to show them that I’ll listen to them and I’ll watch them. I want to scream their names. I want them to see that they are found and known and loved.
I want them to know that there is an audience that sees them. Even if it’s just an audience of one.
I think I know why some people don’t believe in a God they cannot see. Because they don’t believe in the people they can. Because they have been ignored. Because they stand right there in the world yet there’s no room for them. Because they learn very young that it IS possible to be invisible and it doesn’t take a magic cloak.
If they stand unseen in plain sight, if they believe in a world where nobody believes in them, if their outstretched hand is the one that remains empty, why should they keep reaching? Why should they keep searching?
We are called to see the invisible. We are to love the unlovable. It is our blessing to hear every voice, to be with every outcast, to look for the souls hiding in plain sight.
It is our duty to learn their names and celebrate their lives. It is our privilege to win with them and to lose with them and to fight with them and to bleed with them.
Let us never, ever, ever take these things for granted. Let us never wait for someone else to do our job. Let us never shirk our responsibilities or let a single soul pass by untouched, unloved, unknown.
So that’s why I grab my air horn. That’s why I jump up on a chair and celebrate someone unseen. That’s why I’m willing to scream a name from the mezzanine.
Because that’s what has been done for me.