Along with scores of “Thanksgiving Day” airplane passengers I stood anxiously awaiting the arrival of my luggage on the conveyor belt. A Miami airport worker arrived with a young man in a wheelchair and stopped about six feet to my right. Clearly a patient and victim of an orthopedic surgeon, the dreadlocks afro-looking young man had a pair of crutches located on his left side like swords, and his right leg, the obviously wounded one, was as straight as an arrow.
Darting from my left and passing between myself and the conveyor belt, an older man approached the young man to initiate a conversation. Without being privy to the words of the conversation, their body language communicated that the conversation was about the wounded leg.
What caught my attention were the “synodal eyes” of the young man, eyes, listening attentively to the stranger. Sitting in the wheelchair, his position perpendicular to the conveyor belt, but his head slightly turned upward looking intently at the stranger with a listening disposition. I was only seeing one of his soft eyes. It was focused, attentive, piercing, and gently absorbing the words of the stranger. His eye was not wide open in surprise, fright, or shock. It was an oval-shaped opening. For the most part, the young man looked up listening, tenderly nodding his head, and occasionally saying words…similar to someone listening to his lover narrating the events of his day. His nods were deliberate and slow.
Standing in awe, my mind whispered, “Look at those synodal eyes.”
I prayed for the grace to participate in the Church’s synodal journey with the eyes of this young man.