Joseph took the boys from Israel’s knees and bowed respectfully, his face to the ground.
Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect. Romans 13:7
A few years ago I received a book from a friend. It's title was Respect. It did not cross my mind that I had forgotten to return a book long overdue or that I needed to be shaken into noticing a slight I had given. Until now that is.
I ponder the word from time to time as I drift past it on the bookshelf. It seems like an old word. A word associated with compelling phrases such as 'show respect for your elders'. Shoulds and strait laced images follow hard on its heels. Yet the title itself has enough in it to tantalise and poke.
What is it I respect and what are those things that I don't? Does it matter? What are their effects?
Humility and being present
Do I respect my body? When it creaks, or goes slow or wants to push the boat out with a wee sprint. When I am tired do I respect its messages? If not why not?
Do I respect time? Some of us twist and mould time - its the enemy, never enough of it, often fighting against it. Jesus repeats, 'It's not my time', draws back from an action or a response not wanting to unduly bring time forward or push it back.
Do I respect distance? The distance between two people: allowing space for fresh words, not interrupting, being awed rather than challenged by difference? How respectful is God?
Do I respect the task ahead of me? Maybe it should take longer than I want it to take? Does my being present suffer? Often it does.
In short, give what is due. Respect what is given.
So, here we arrive at a point, the relationship between respect and being present. Present to my body, my emotions, another's words, another's world. What injury ensues when respect is lacking? What violence is done when I ignore a grace, some gift? The world is such a hardy place yet also a fragile one.
I wonder at the impact of casually dismissing what is given.