“It’s very rude to stare!” said the Doorknocker with the ring in his ears in the movie Labyrinth to Sarah as she sought a way to find her baby brother, Toby, who was taken by the Goblin King. This is advice each of us should heed.
Being out of DrPepper, I went shopping this morning for the world’s first soft drink. While at the store I decided to pick up a few other items (we were also out of olive oil, which negated the plans I had yesterday for lunch).
While moving through the store choosing the least populated aisles I could not help but be aware of the many stares I received as I pushed my cart through the store; I was wearing my Roman collar (with the vest and cufflinks, to boot).
When I would move in the direction of a person staring at me, I would look them in the eye and say, “Good morning,” to which only a couple responded with a smile. Nobody returned the greeting – at least that I heard – and most simply kept staring at me as though I either had no emotions or thoughts of my own or were some sort of alien creature.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been stared at by lots of people while you are busy doing something else. If you haven’t, it’s a most uncomfortable feeling, sort of like being locked inside a glass room while everybody else watches you go about your daily work. You know, that feeling you have when you suddenly become aware that someone is reading over your shoulder or watching you draw a picture.
The trouble with staring at people is that the very act itself denies the dignity they have as people made in the image and likeness of God; it denies them the basic respect they deserve, simply because they are alive.
Now I know that it isn’t every day that you see a priest shopping for DrPepper in his clerics; it’s probably more likely to see a priest shopping without his clerics (which I generally do to avoid the stares, but I had a meeting this morning and only a few minutes).
For many, a priest is not seen very often at all. Nevertheless, this is no excuse to simply stare at him as though he were a figment of your imagination. A simple look in his direction and a kind, “Hello,” will do nicely. Who knows, he might even respond and a conversation might follow. That wouldn’t be so bad, would it?
Always remember the exhortation of the doorknocker: “It’s very rude to stare.” Thank you, and have a nice day.