I had a friend come to visit this weekend. I’ve known him since I was 18 and the best way I can describe this man is that he lives in every moment of every day. He notices everything and everyone. Every person he encounters is someone to interact with and learn from.
Too often I go through my life without noticing or perhaps more accurately, without engaging in the world around me.
We went to Natchitoches on Saturday and stopped in a church that I’ve been in frequently. But this time our visitor was with us and by the time we left we knew more about that church than I have managed to glean on all my past visits combined. Why? Because Kevin doesn’t just walk past things and people, he truly notices them and interacts with them.
Enter Father John Cunningham, a priest for almost 47 years, who was an altar boy at The Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception and who is now retired there. Father is a Notre Dame graduate, as is my friend. Add in a third couple from Alabama who were also visiting the church and we end up with three Notre Dame graduates, a priest, an artist, and a professor of medieval literature. Common links were discovered.
Two hours and a whole lot of conversation later we are climbing up a pair of 150 year old ladders that certainly acted as if they were that old (think a lot of dust and a fair amount of shaking and creaking) to get to the belfry to see the bell that’s been ringing to the faithful for a century and a half.
And all because my friend took the time to really see and interact with a retired priest who was in this beautiful church on a quiet Saturday afternoon.
I’m ashamed to admit that I may have shook his hand and smiled but I probably would not have stopped to converse beyond mere pleasantries. And I certainly would not have had the pleasure of his blessing and the laying on of hands that it included. I know with certainty I would not have seen that 150 year old bell.
I’m thankful for friends from other places who take the time to stop by for a few days and in the process, open my eyes once again.