Passing the Peace

Passing the Peace August 3, 2016

Hi, folks. I took a week or so away from blogging to finish my book, and now I’m taking a week away to spend with my family. Enjoy this guest post from my friend Annie Kratzsch, and look for more guest posts in the coming days. I’ll be back to writing around mid-August, and look forward to catching up with the world. 

A few weeks ago, I was proselytized twice in three days.

On a Thursday night, before I could get all the way through the mall doors, I heard the universal opener for selling something: “Can I ask you a question?”

I didn’t have a chance to get out my usual, “No, thank you,” before the two young women launched into their spiel — something about eternal life that I couldn’t quite sort out. I listened, I answered the rhetorical questions, I took the pamphlets and business cards. But at the end of our interaction, they didn’t know my name. They didn’t know that I follow Jesus or that my son has multiple disabilities or even that I hate going to the mall. And I, quite frankly, didn’t know what it was they were trying so desperately to get me to accept. We parted amicably, but the theme of the encounter was clear: This is what you should think.

Grouchy and discombobulated, I ducked into a store, wondering how a person could expect to accomplish anything worthwhile in such a short, random interaction.

Then Saturday morning, we heard a knock at the door. My husband answered while I helped Collin with his stretches just inside. A man and woman in dress clothes waited and the woman was clearly on duty for our house. She stumbled through something vague about hope for these hard times. I could hear a quaver in her voice. She handed over a pamphlet and nervously referenced an article inside.

I was surprised to hear my husband ask a few questions. He really listened to the answers. He even shared a bit about his job and where we attend church.

And that’s when I realized what was going on: he was putting her at ease. It was miraculous how quickly it worked. Within a couple of minutes, she was laughing and making conversation about the paint chips hanging on our front door, going so far as to cast her vote for Sunspot Yellow. When the conversation wrapped up, she warmly thanked him for his time and moved on.

via Pixabay
via Pixabay

It would have been easy to brush her off or act offended for being disturbed at home. And it’s not that he didn’t use the home court advantage. He definitely did. He just used it to share what he had — to do some small, simple good. The theme of their encounter was clear: Don’t worry. You’re safe here.

We do this thing at our church where we take a couple of minutes during the service to greet the people around us. Some churches call it ‘passing the peace’. I always thought it was awkward and maybe a waste of time — a compulsory, fly-by exchange, like the young women at the mall. But that Sunday felt different. I thought of my husband welcoming the strangers at our door and was able to see those few moments of interaction as a chance for real connection.

Unfortunately, passing the peace can be especially awkward with Collin. Many don’t know how to interact with him. His wheelchair, his lack of eye contact or verbal communication, his unfamiliar body language — it’s all a bit much for some people.

But Collin is tangible grace in our lives. In ways that are tricky to explain, he is our reminder of goodness and truth. He is our home court advantage. He gives us peace to pass on.

So, like that day at the front door, my family is empowered to welcome the nervous and the awkward in those few moments on Sunday mornings. Through handshakes and eye contact, through asking simple questions and listening to answers, we pass on the message we all need to hear: Don’t worry. You’re safe here.

20160327_101022Annie Kratzsch is a writer and editor in Louisville, Kentucky. At This Rare Day, she writes about the richness and mess of living a life she didn’t expect: raising the incomparable Collin, who also has a rare disease and multiple disabilities.

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