One of my Jesuit brothers, who serves in a large retreat house, said the other day that every single person who passes through the doors of the place is damaged in some significant way. We are all the walking wounded, he says, and what we most need is someone to listen to us.
My late brother-in-law, a family physician in England, used to say pretty much the same thing. He was not a Catholic, but he was convinced that what people suffered most from were not their physical or psychological ailments but spiritual distress. He said that his most important job was to pay close attention to his patients and to try to figure out what they were – and were not – trying to say to him. A lot of people – even those embraced by their large families – were profoundly lonely and afraid.
I worry that I am far too quick to criticize, to judge, and to sideline those I don’t like or find easy to love. I need to remind myself that everyone needs to be met with kindness and compassion. Perhaps today will be the day when, for once, I will greet everyone with a generous heart.
I invite you to join me.