On Christmas Day morning I was the Usher at Trinity’s service – not the huge social celebration of the Christmas Eve event – but a typical gathering of those hoping to find connection to something not part of the naturally observable world or their own egocentric perch. Ushers are the ingratiating guardians – making strangers comfortable and providing a sense of comfort to those who wander in.
An inebriated man, declaring himself to be “profoundly deaf” timidly asked to come into the service. He did not believe me when I said “Of course.” But upon my third affirmation, I seated him, whereupon he expressively and silently gesticulated to the music and worlds he theoretically could not hear, and ultimately fell asleep.
The Sexton (the actual Security Guard for the church) was fairly upset I let him in. A street person, out of control, on Christmas Morning – “you cannot do that.”.
But when the deaf and drunk man sought me out when he awoke to awkwardly thank me – I saw in his face the gratitude each of us feel when we are rendered helpless by circumstance, and yet are welcomed into the presence of others. Not the contrived cynical hype of a Starbucks cup instant aphorism, but the connection to a larger consciousness of our common human frailty.