Yesterday morning was slow, but I was slammed in the afternoon.
CONCLUSIONS: PART 1
Anthony DeMello begins his book, Wellsprings, with: “I imagine that today I am to die. I ask for time to be alone and write down for my friends a sort of testament for which the points that follow could serve as chapter titles.” He goes on to list 16 questions or categories to consider and write on.
Number 1 is:
“These things I have loved in life:
Things I tasted,
The first time I went to the Happiest place on earth, Chicago, I was brought to Gino’s East. Before the pizza came to our table, I remember being elated to see a picture of David Letterman eating pizza on the wall. There were so many other people pictured, but I was only impressed and enthralled with David Letterman. It was the first time I had Chicago style deep-dish pizza. I would not have it again for several years during a spring break in college.
Just one friend and I went on this spring break together. We chose to go north to a frigid Wisconsin for our spring break. It would be a week of journaling and drinking coffee. It really wasn’t bad at all. There came from it a couple crazy stories. One of those is going through the tolls just over the state boarder into Wisconsin. It was a time when you threw coins into a basket to make the wooden arm go up. We came up on the basket but the car in front of us hadn’t not put in exact change. We put in our full amount to make the arm go up and attempted to follow the cheapskates through the arm, and through the arm we did go, breaking it clean off. We both looked at one another in a silent panic, and one of us said, “GUN IT!” So I’m a criminal.
Also on this trip, there was a day spent in Chicago. We went to a lot of the spots everyone goes to, and we wanted to be certain we had pizza before we left. We walked everywhere we went. On our way to Gino’s, we came across a homeless man who had asked for spare money we would not give him if we HAD it. Instead, we asked him how to get to Gino’s East and if he wanted to grab some pizza with us. He warned us no place was going to let him in, but we insisted.
I can still feel the encrusted hand shake my own. At some point, we realize what you throw to the side in order to make a marginalized person feel like a person. His hands had more than dirt and germs swathed within them. His hands held loosely memories of family and a childhood lived somewhere. With a simple handshake, you have to feel all these things below the grime or this man never becomes a person.
Not many sounds come flooding back to me from that day, but today I can hear the naivety of two college guys who realize this man they sat with had already known the years we knew plus some. This meant, two college kids were unaware that his “condition” could have easily been their immediate future. They just thought they were doing something so incredibly noble and loving. 1 out of 2 ain’t bad.
The noblest and most loving thing we can do is to humanize the people we walk past every day, even if it means looking below the grim encrusted on the outside.
Reading in Mark brings me across 1:40-45, his account of the man with leprosy. Just before this passage, Jesus told his disciples they were going to move on to the next city--so Jesus could preach there also. This is where they encounter the leper, which makes perfect sense because that was where lepers belonged. They were banished because they were ceremonially and societally UNCLEAN.
This man comes to Jesus begging to be healed of the leprosy, and Jesus brings him so much more. Yes, Jesus takes away the leprosy because his compassionate healing heart was willing to do so (1:41). But then the last phrase of that verse is the greatest part to me today. Jesus says to the man, "I am willing. BE CLEAN!" This had to be some of the greatest news to this man. This shows Jesus' ability to heal more than the physical ailment.
For, who knows how many years, this man had to go among the streets of the town screaming, "UNCLEAN! UNCLEAN!" Though leprosy was not something this man chose out of his own free will, he was still seen as ceremonially and societally unclean. The shame he must have felt as an outcast is more than I can really imagine.
But Jesus did not only heal the disease, but he says to the man, "BE CLEAN!" SO to say, "Now go into the town, and know that you are NOT unclean. You are clean. You are to be known as clean. You are not an outcast! You are ceremonially and societally CLEAN!"
I cannot imagine the freedom this man must have felt to know he was no longer unclean. Yes, he was miraculously healed of leprosy, but this man has now been told that after so many years, he is NOW acceptable, valuable and approachable. He is no longer UNCLEAN.
I also see a lot of people who are ceremonially and societally unclean, and I know that homelessness is not contagious; nor is poverty, drug addiction, prostitution, divorce, jail time, and sin. I know these things are not contagious, but I have seen many of these people made to be ceremonially and societally UNCLEAN! I cannot imagine the freedom God would bring to these people through healing of their ailments and situations. But my heart aches more at the fact that these people are falsely determined and branded UNCLEAN! I believe Jesus would walk among these people, yes, healing their ailments, but not only that. I think Jesus would go beyond that to say, "I am willing. BE CLEAN!!"
Now the question is: Will I be the only reflection of Jesus these people may ever know?
I am guest blogging at whereamiwearing.com