There is a “new” popular interest in being mindful lately—especially because of the stressful routine we live with (Understanding Mindfulness Meditation, Tamara Warta). One useful dimension I’ve noted in the conversation is the identifying of our human capacity to focus in a relationship to such a degree that we are significantly present to them and unperturbed by distractions and preoccupations. Such a learned discipline is considered a major gift in conversations and relationships of all kinds. I’m certain that this described characteristic was what people found both stunning and attractive in their conversations with Jesus Christ.

The Gospel of Luke frequently describes particular exchanges Christ had with wounded people, poor people, forgotten people, ignored people, and stereotyped people. He was present “for them,” and often went out of his way to seek them out. He took initiative toward persons on the margin of life, and enriched their life by declaring them important.  He cared for the dispossessed and the Pharisee, the attractive and the disheveled.

Focused presence is an affirmation in relationships. As we move from Epiphany to Lent, one of the gentle promptings from the Gospel of Luke is a call to value persons “on the periphery” of our daily walk. The call is first, no doubt, to re-value our primary relationships. The challenge, next, is to become mindful of those standing on the edge of importance, in the quiet, sometimes dark corners of human traffic. The voiceless. The shy. The forgotten. The self-effacing. The abused. The child. The person for whom Christ died.

I need to look around today—and be mindful.