Everyone who knows me, knows that I have a horrible memory. Not just, “Where did I put my car keys?” or “Crap, I forgot why I came in here” type of bad memory, rather more like, “I could hide my own Easter eggs!” I could watch the same movie ten times and be shocked each time at the ending!
So, I dread seeing clients in public. As a veterinarian, I form personal relationships with my clients, and get to know them, their children, and their pets – often a very real part of their family. People appreciate when you connect with them, and I do genuinely love my job and (most of) my clients and their “families.” So when I greet them by name and remember their kids, and that their cat purrs on Grandpa’s lap and the dog digs up the daffodils and enjoys leg humping Uncle Donnie, and never left Maggies side when she had cancer surgery, I get to show them that I understand, and that I’m honored to also be included in their family’s story. But remember, I have “crib notes” or “cheat sheets” called a medical chart. I’ve not only read “Otis’s medical notes, but also the post-it notes attached that remind me of the personal stuff. Please know that I am truly interested in you personally and your family, but frankly, I do well to remember my own Kayla’s swim meet this weekend, or that I agreed to pick up printer ink for Noah’s book report on my home tonight.
So that explains the “deer in the headlights” look in my eyes when I see you at the grocery store, as I cheerfully blurt out, “OH Hi!! How ARE you???!!!” But, I really don’t have a clue who you are. Now I do know you look familiar, and so you probably are a client, and I very much appreciate that you like me, and I truly do like you also. Because I like everyone, or most people anyway. And I really and truly DO wish I could remember stuff like that, because you really ARE important to me – and not just professionally, because you pay the bills. No, much more so because I believe “we’re all in this together,” and I do enjoy your company and your stories.
But that’s the sort of stuff that settled into my mind as I listened to Luke’s gospel today about the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Apparently, these were two guys that were with Jesus daily, were His friends, and actually saw Him perform miracles. The loved Him dearly as a friend, broke bread with Him, and actually heard Him say the words of everlasting life, that He would be resurrected and come back. And yet these two disciples, who knew Him so well, didn’t know Him after all. They didn’t recognize Him at all as they walked down the road for miles. Only that night, when they again broke bread together did the light bulb go on.
Which is a pretty transparent segway to my own road. Where is Emmaus anyway? I guess none of us know exactly where this road will end, but I truly have learned that we encounter our Lord multiple times on this journey.
An therein lies my real dread. When I don’t recognize Christ in those I encounter, I’ve lost that opportunity forever to impact that person’s life. How many times have I walked on past my Lord, too busy to care, too focused on myself and my family, too forgetful to remember that I really do know this stranger.
As I begin my Camino de Santiago in 14 days, I’ll try to remember that those I’ll encounter are already friends. And when I return, I can only hope that I will have learned some valuable lessons. But most importantly, I desire a better ability to remember the one I’m actually looking for.