It was after I had been talking to my sister about our home village that Miss Worcester came to mind. Some people in the village were less visible than others, either because they chose to be, or because, to be honest we didn’t take much notice of them. Miss Worcester was one of the latter. She lived in a house at the edge of the village, a house which, after she died was left empty and gradually collapsed. We only saw her when, dressed all in black, she emerged in her wheelchair – a sort of hand driven tricycle. By cranking a handle in front of her, she drove a chain, which turned the wheelchair’s wheels. What an effort it must have been to get up the initial incline into the village. Not that I thought about that then.
Miss Worcester came to mind after I’d been given an article which asked the question, ‘Who is invisible to you?’. I began to wonder about who else had been ‘invisible’ at other stages of my life, other children at school, those who said little, didn’t answer the teachers’ questions, didn’t mix or play out with the rest of us. How did they feel? Did they long to be noticed. Did they feel ignored?
I realised that at every stage of my life, there had been people who were ‘invisible’ to me, people I had ignored or overlooked. Sometimes, perhaps, because they were too scary, not my kind of people, or caused me embarrassment. For much of the time it was because I was just too busy getting on with my own life. Head down and lost in my world.
And what about now? Yes, Covid has brought otherwise ignored or taken for granted people to the fore – nurses, care workers, shop assistants and shelf stackers. But what about our everyday encounters? Do we look up, make eye contact, smile even and say a word to those we pass or interact with? Do we engage the Big Issue seller in conversation, or, more challengingly, stop and bend to chat to the person begging in the street? Do we remember that ‘I am because you are’? That it is through these encounters that God’s love is expressed and both of our existences affirmed.