On this third day of the Novena of Grace, Jessica Seidman took us imaginatively to her historical research trip to Istanbul, Turkey in 2012. Her fascination with all things ancient, especially Greek and Trojan stories, had her dismiss the contemporaneous happenings of this modern City and its people. Until an experience during Ramadan. On a grassy square between the holy places of Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque, thousands of people were arrayed at dusk with colorful baskets of delectables on equally colorful blankets waiting for 8:17pm when their fast would end and the feasts would begin. Jessica hoped to photograph the event and her camera became a kind of shield or defense from interaction. While she momentarily worried about taking pictures of strangers without their permission, a middle-aged man with a family said to her, “Come join us”–inviting her to share their blanket. Jessica politely declined explaining to us that her social anxiety prompted a host of fears such as her unfamiliarity causing unintentional offense, what she would say or talk about, or misunderstanding. She clutched her camera all the more. Then the man asked her again, “What is your name?” Once she responded, he then said, “Jessica, come join us!”
So begins her presentation on the invitation to belonging in a deeper and wider sense. Listen to her reflection as she invites us to do what God might be asking: leave our defenses (camera) and step into another’s picture, especially those on the margins of our familiarity. Is not that what Jesus does with Levi in today’s gospel? And capture the prophetic quote Jessica uses of Fr. Greg Boyle, S.J.
How does our Novena help you in the grace of approachability? Is your heart helping erase the boundary lines of “us” and “them?” Whom would you invite to join you on your blanket of plenty?