It occurred to me the other day that if one were to boil down my blogs and distill them into rock-hard little simplified statements, many of them would say “…the Western world and this world are so different…” or to restate that a bit more pointedly,”we don’t realize how different we are…”
If that’s not what my blogs have been saying to ye 12-45 readers, then now you know that it’s what I’ve been thinking. And how could it not be? I have to be honest, travel can be eye-opening in a sobering way and can leave a person quite appropriately humbled. There are so many people living on the streets and to some degree…I think we’ve come to accept that.
I guess it’s a sin we all share. I want to see people the way Jesus saw them and every day I fail, but I am convinced that the first step in doing this is allowing that overwhelming feeling of sorrow for the people who suffer in this world. Allowing the darkness of another and allowing complete humility.
Dorothy Day used to say that yes, she had seen Jesus in the people she served at her home-turned homeless shelter at the beginning of the Catholic Worker movement. She then went on to say that Jesus did not have the prettiest of faces. If He was in the people she served, then sometimes He had dirty clothing and smelled of the streets and that much of the time He was hard to love. (I believe that can be found in her biography.)
I think of that when I get scammed by a tuk-tuk driver that I know needs my money or when a homeless mother sends her child out to do her begging for her.
Not all poor people are big-eyed children with innocence glowing from their sad faces, as seen on the commercials that show up on TV from time to time. Many of the poor are desperate and in their desperation they are mean and dishonest. They are not all innocent.
Just like you and me.
One man’s sin is the money he stole to buy what he needed while another man’s sin is his need to own more than he gives.
I am not the person shouting from the street-side that people need to change their lives.
Changing is very hard, and often takes a lifetime to even begin. And half the time…we don’t know how to respond…
But I will tell myself, and my 12-45 readers that we need to consider others with complete humility.
There is too much brokenness in this world for us NOT to offer that to one another.
I fail at this every day, so I’m not really teaching any lessons here. I’m just hoping to bring a few people with me down the sobering rabbit-trail my thoughts have found. As discouraging as this all sounds though, I have to add that I would not jabber about any of these things if I didn’t believe in hope and if I didn’t believe that love and compassion are strangely powerful things.
As true as brokenness is…so too is hope.
The Easter message for instance. Jesus is alive!
Perhaps Jesus has dirty clothing and smells like the streets, but He lives and loves.
There is a sobering amount of poverty in this world, yes. Brokenness. But…the other thing about the poor is that some of them are very happy. It’s amazing how unattached happiness can be from ownership or even wellness. Hope.
We should not be comfortable, assuming that the rest of the world goes on as we do: having all it wants and expecting even more. But…we shouldn’t look at the lives of others with nothing but pity and shame. There is hope.
I think humility falls somewhere in between those two truths. When we look at others with humility, we recognize the honest picture of that person, no matter how broken and imperfect, and we see someone worth our compassion and our service.
Jesus looked at brokenness and saw it worth all the Love He could give. He looked at dirty faces and people with sins just like mine and He saw hope or rather offered hope in giving love. He saw someone worth eating with, healing, fishing with, walking with. He offered complete humility.
We are not Jesus…and we are not saviors. There is brokenness in this world but we are blessed with the chance to be a small part of offering a picture of hope. Not because we are saviors or heroes but because even the dirtiest or sleeziest of people are worth our compassion and we should be humbled by our oppulence in the face of their need. Humbled by how unrecognized their worth has been.
happy Easter, all!