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Minä rakastan sinua, Herra, sinä olet minun voimani. Ps. 18:2

Blog: Virtual candle

in English 19.7.2016 06:59 | Päivämies-verkkolehti
Before last Christmas I downloaded a virtual candle in my tablet. I “lit the flame” and slipped the tablet into the plastic casing outside my office door. Never before had so many people stopped at my door as on that day. Children, teenagers, colleagues.
The candle caused them to peek into my room, exchange a few words, and wish me happy Christmas. One of the children wanted to give me a Christmas hug, one teenager told me about his hopes, and some of the adults shared their worries or joys.
 
That small thing, a virtual candle on the wall of the corridor, worked miracles. It also made me stop and look at the people around me. It made me wonder why I usually just hurry from place to place without even noticing the others. How often in my everyday life I fail to greet a person, to say a nice word, to look a person into the eyes, to shake hands, to hug. I easily spend the whole working day, and even the evening at home, in my own thoughts, occupied with my presumably important tasks. I do not pay attention to anybody else’s affairs, I do not really meet and interact with anybody – and yet that is exactly what a person would need most! That is actually what I myself expect most, that someone would have time to stop and listen to me.
 
I work a lot on technology. I also spend much of my free time on gadgets and contraptions. While I am virtually here and on the video there, I appreciate more and more real face-to-face encounters. No technology can ever replace the presence of another person. My experience of seeing him smile, enjoying a warm handshake, speaking and listening, hugging, and clapping him on the shoulder.  
 
Live encounters with people may bring out matters that we might otherwise miss. We can see and hear each other better. Our spouse, children, relatives, friends, colleagues, both familiar and unfamiliar people.
 
Our three-year-old watched his sleepy father in the kitchen. He looked at me and the shirt I was wearing and said, “Daddy, you look like an angel!” I checked the shirt I happened to be wearing that morning. It was a perfectly ordinary white T-shirt, and yet the child saw an angel. It was certainly not a trivial matter. I was glad I heard and listened to what this little one had to say.

At Epiphany we hear about the wise men of the east, who stopped to wonder about the big star on the sky. They knew it marked the birth of the King. The star showed them the way, and they followed it. The wise men and baby Jesus met. He received the gifts of the wise men, and they received an even greater gift from Him. They saw the miracle of Christmas.
 
It is good to remember that the people who are close to us are gifts of God, even angels. If only we would let people come close to us more often, would stop and shake hands with them, would listen to them. The Letter to the Hebrews has these important words: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”
 
Juho Lehtola
Translation: S.-L. Leinonen

The blog post was published in Finnish in online Päivämies on 6 January 2016.

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