Saturday, May 4, 2013

Just Show Up: The Power of Presence Part I

Woody Allen has made the claim that "80% of success is showing up." I once thought this was a pathetic standard. Showing up yields success? Seems to me like it take much more than that. The longer I live however, the more I agree with him. He's on to's true.

I was confronted by several examples and challenges of this claim in the past week.  At Sunday Mass, the ushers for the communion line was a father-daughter team.  They were a striking pair for two reasons. First, it spoke to me that a parent and his child would minister at the Mass together. Second, he was well dressed and she...was wearing her Convent on the Sacred Heart basketball uniform.  

Clearly she had just come from her game.  Growing up, I remember wearing my Sunday best to Mass.  I once thought it was important to dress appropriately for church services and a part of me still does. But today, I am thrilled when young people attend mass in their uniform.  I'm just glad they show up.

With the number of Mass times, it should be easier than ever to "show up" but I know many young people don't. They show up for practice and their games; my hope it they show up for Sunday services. I hope they will become a member of a faith community and as evidenced by this father-daughter duo, even participate in the service.
Showing up it is a not a given. Many people don't—which is what Allen is addressing. And when we don't, not only do we miss out, but those around us do too as painfully evidenced in the movie "Silver Linings Playbook." 

The main character, Pat Solitano struggles with mental health issues, namely a bipolar condition. He is committed to a mental institution for eight months and the movie begins upon his release—his re-entry to independence. In several different scenes important people in his life—two close friends and even his brother apologize for not visiting him. Each one is a sad reflection of them and made me pause to consider: What do we prioritize?  Why don't we show up?  How would things be different for Pat if his brother  and friends had shown up?  
In a funny twist in the movie, Pat's father (played by Robert DeNiro) blames his son for the Eagles' loss. Pat and his brother were unable to "show up" for the game; they were arrested for fighting in the parking lot outside Lincoln Financial Field. Mr. Solitano truly believed that the Eagles would have won had Pat been at the game until Tiffany (played by Jennifer Lawrence) makes a convincing argument for where Pat should have shown up and didn't.  
I like to think of the Incarnation as "God shows up." God didn't need to become one of us, but God did so for us. In Jesus Christ, we have God made flesh. A God who isn't absent but who shows up,  who struggled and suffered like we do.  Who was rejected but rose from the dead. Who loved and was loved in return.  Some pretty good reasons to show up if you ask me.

I wish I had taken a surreptitious photo of a couple who sat in front of me at the 5:30 pm Mass on a Sunday in January after a huge Forty-Niner victory.  Replete with matching #85 Vernon Davis jerseys, I knew by their enthusiasm and swag that they had come from the game.  And yet part of me thinks I got one. I have a good mental snapshot of who they are and what matters to them. I'm grateful I showed up to see that.....

Photo Credits
Two Brothers
Father and son
Just Show Up Pillow: from Mary Ahlbach's classroom

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