“There are no ordinary people”

Original photo by Victor Silva
Original photo by Victor Silva

Think of all the people you know: those who share your household; members of your extended family; your circle of friends; members of your church; your co-workers; people in your neighborhood.  Think of all the people whose paths you cross on any given day.

I am by no means an extravert — okay, scratch that, I’m very much an introvert — but I do try to come out of my shell to acknowledge and appreciate the presence of others.  (For all you extraverts out there, yes, this is how introverts often experience the social world.  Please don’t gang up on us.)  When I’m out for a walk, I’ll greet people coming the other way; sometimes, I’ll even chat up a fellow shopper in the checkout line at the grocery store.

But the truth is that in any average moment in any average day, I’m intent on my own goals and projects, and take the others around me for granted.

What difference would it make to somehow grasp that I’m constantly surrounded by creatures made in the very image of God, each possessing an eternal destiny?

In a sermon entitled, “The Weight of Glory,” C. S. Lewis makes the point this way:

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.  (pp. 45-46)

There are no ordinary people, no mere mortals.  Not even the ones who seem irrelevant to our purposes.  Everyone we meet, everyone with whom we interact, has a date with destiny.

And how we relate to one another matters.

A new year will begin soon: could we enter 2015 with a deeper appreciation of the people that populate our lives?