Monday, March 9, 2009

Lenten Vision

J. preached her head off on Sunday -- it was International Women's Day and J., an amazing preacher anyway, went to a place that was just overwhelming. She posted her sermon, in its entirety, on her blog. I encourage you to read it, all of it, but for now just know that it was the kind of Lenten message that feels so far removed from Easter, and was meant to shock and awe in a way that has nothing to do with Bush and everything to do with how we do, or don't, treat each other as children of God.

I wasn't thinking about this at all today when I got home from work and happily threw on some tennis shoes to get out and enjoy this 65 degree day. I had the Shuffle in full effect while taking a leisurely walk to pick up some fruit at the Teeter, and was smiling when "Dancing in the Moonlight" came on after "Jump Around" (such is my iPod). I was feeling completely, blissfully, happy. Relaxed. Worry free.

I came around the corner of the shopping center and the door of the drug store opened ahead of me. A man came out carrying a small bag and started to walk ahead of me in the same direction I was going. I paid no attention. Then he started striking himself in the head. Hard. I paid attention. I slowed down to give this a little distance. He hit himself with heel of his left hand on the temple with the force of a punch over and over again. He kept walking and sat down on a bench in front of the Chipotle.

Chipotle was hopping... a line almost out the door, the smell of grilled meat streaming out. I was just about in front of this man when he sat down so I didn't get to see his face. He seemed a million miles removed from all of the delicous burritos going on around him and the suddenly ridiculous 70s tunes in my ears, completely alone in a crowd. Every word from Sunday's message came crashing back to me.

I went on to the store (the bag boy asked if my water was water-water or vodka-water, which made me laugh and wonder what vodka-water was and where I could get some). When I came out the man was still on the bench, and I realized I had a choice -- I could walk past and make no eye contact, or I could stop and at least ask if he was ok. I slowed down when I got near him and when he looked up, all I could think of to say was the ever-so-comfortable "would you like an orange? I just bought them". He blinked. I blinked.

He put his hand out. I gave him an orange.

I don't know if he was hitting himself to make something stop talking to him or if he'd just said something completely inappropriate to the drug store clerk, or just because its how his illness manifests, but I kind of hope that he's less likely to do it with fruit in his hand. Lent is hard, but self-inflicted punches are harder.

The image is called "Alone in a Crowd" and is from here.

1 comment:

CLEA Dockins said...

This is an amazing post. Thanks for reminding me that those simple gracious acts are what Jesus wants. He wants us to be kind and he wants us to be aware of everyone who suffers. He wants us to help ease their pain and a simple orange might just be a cure. Well said and glad to see that you are back...missed your blog!