Several Rows Back

In Christ's sermons, He made it quite clear that there's no reward in Heaven for showmanship, that those who lead forward-facing lives are getting a lot of their reward in the moment. For those of us who live for the applause and who enjoy the reward of hard work, for artists, it is a sobering warning. It means that we have to do a lot of work that no one sees and restrain ourselves from the never-ending social media posts lamenting the work we do to do our work. It isn't easy to speak out, but I wonder if it is harder to do nothing. 

And we have an answer: Christ was talking about prayer. Prayer is a frighteningly private event, because it is the temporal body being de-prioritized and the eternal soul making contact with its Maker. In less highfaluting terms, it is to be naked in one's own mind while the world around can watch the reaction (sometimes, a prayer closet is a defense mechanism). But this leads to another point: there are those, I imagine, who are not called to many forward-facing roles, whose lives are made to look ordinary. They lead a secret and holy double life. 

Somewhere, there are men who are quietly typing away at their work and, more quietly, remembering orphans in their prayers. There are those who have retired from their work and who now take bulletins from the volunteers, who ask for their names, and record them in notebooks so they remember to pray for them during the week. There are women who have prayer closets far more hidden than we imagine: they find refuge in their minivans when the kids get dropped off for practice, and they worship in traffic. 

This is a time of great fear and division, of threadbare patience being torn asunder. This is a time when swords are dividing children from their parents, husbands from their wives, brothers from their sisters. It might seem that there isn't enough to be said, that there is just no way that all of us who put our words out can be heard, that we will never say what has to be said well enough. That's probably true. The greatest thing is that we have a support that's easily forgotten, that does not forget us.

For every cry in the light, there are silent cries in the dark, and in the end, they will be in the front row of Heaven, and those of us who stood in the spotlight here will be sitting several rows back, learning what we missed.