Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Some very exciting news: our mosaics have been delivered. The artwork arrived on Thursday and remains crated and waiting for the installers to arrive in about ten days. We have been engaging these Italian artists for months.
The design, budgeting, creative and production process has been filled with great anticipation and prayerful jubilation. You could imagine my sense of excitement knowing that our shipment had cleared customs and was on its way. The truck pulled in, the delivery driver jumped out and then, one of the most significant interactions of my life took place. And it had nothing – NOTHING to do with glass mosaic tiles.
The delivery driver came into the building, and I immediately went to the door, extended my hand to greet him and introduced myself. The man shook my hand, then just stood there, staring at me. He didn’t say anything for what seemed to take forever. He just kept looking at me, almost beginning to cry. He then asked in very broken English “Do you speak Spanish?”
I told him no. He then took out his phone and started speaking into it with clear and deliberate speed in his own language. He then showed me his phone, which had translated what he said into English. “Here,” he said. I took his phone and read the message. Then, just like him as we first met, I began to get emotional and started to cry.
His phone read: “Thank you. For the first time since I’ve moved to this country, you are the very first person to shake my hand.”
Through the process of his phone translating, I asked him how long he’s been here.
He said just over three years.
By this point, I wasn’t even thinking about mosaics or artwork or construction or Italians or anything else. I was equally stunned with emotion.
This man, standing before me, was taken back with the most basic gesture of acknowledgement and connection. Upon his arrival, I did not see a delivery man, or a foreign guy walk through the doors of our church, but a person. I didn’t even think about the interaction in such terms. But he sure did.
Let’s think about the last three years. With the Pandemic, we all got out of the habit of shaking hands. The awkward combination of fist and elbow bumps replaced the firm handshake. Ricardo, our new friend came to the USA around this time. Perhaps the timing of his arrival made it so, that nobody, ever, extended a hand of greeting. For the sake of giving humanity the benefit of the doubt, I’ll naïvely accept that. But you and I know probably know that’s not true.
Let us always take the opportunity to respect and acknowledge everyone who comes into our lives. When we afford grocery clerks and cable installers with the same dignity, we offer our physicians and professors, we can see humanity through the eyes of Christ. We are all His children. We are all created in His image. We are accountable to Him by how we treat each other.
Can you imagine going three years without an acknowledgement of your existence? Would you want to walk through the halls of your office, school or warehouse as an invisible ghost? Always, always see the Other. Because the Other, is another occupant of this globe and represents Christ, Himself (Mt 25:31-46).
So, the mosaic icon is here. It depicts St. Anna walking in her garden with her daughter, the Theotokos. There is no image of Christ in this icon. But look with a prayerful, humble, discerning, and delicate eye. Then you’ll see Him.
He delivered it to us.
With Love in Christ,
Fr. Anthony Savas