The expanse of the balcony looked totally empty as it should be until a movement far away caught my eye. A young woman with long blond hair had been sitting alone, her hair hiding her face. She got up and hurried out.
We have a Saturday night worship service at our church and because it is small, we close off the balcony. At the end of worship a few weeks ago I had to go up to talk to our tech people. This is when I spotted the balcony girl.
Clearly she wanted to see but not be seen. She wore both hope and grief like strong perfume that almost hovered around her in visible clouds.
I tried to catch up to her as she scurried away, but I was too far away, so I prayed.
Maybe she came to grasp at the hem of Jesus’ robe without bothering Him, like the woman who couldn’t stop bleeding.* Did she find something of the healing she was looking for?
Maybe she came on Saturday when there wouldn’t be many people to see her, like the woman coming to the well in the middle of the day, carrying her shame in a water jug.* But Jesus was there at the well, and I pray balcony woman found Jesus here too.
Was she desperate, in a desert place like Hagar?* Did she discover God to be the One who seeks her and sees her no matter what?
Have you ever been that person hiding in the balcony? Or the bathroom at church?
Trying not to cry. Desperate to be in church, but in such pain that it also feels impossible?
Recently we got a letter from a dear couple who have been faithful volunteers at our church for a few years, but are leaving. Not in anger, but just sadness, because they haven’t felt “seen”.
People aren’t always ready to be found or seen by us. I get that. That’s where I wish I had super Spidey sense (or more Holy Spirit juice) to do or say the most helpful thing, or not say anything . To just hug, or keep my distance and just pray.
We can’t do Jesus’ job. We can’t MAKE others feel loved. But we can pay attention, pray for sensitivity, and as best we can, create a place that feels safe and embracing – a place where people can encounter the God who always sees them and always loves them, even when we don’t.
I saw this sign from another church that I thought was just brilliant.
When I look at the encounters with these hurting women in the Bible I see a God who sees, hears, asks questions, and responds, but doesn’t push.
What if the next time you go to worship you scan the pews for a “balcony person” and sit next to them? Maybe all you’ll do is pray for them. Or maybe you’ll feel nudged to do or say more.
Linking up here today…