Friday, October 19, 2012

Define me. I dare you.

"Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot, others transform a yellow spot into the sun."

You seem pretty convinced about me.
I don’t fit into your true preference of a person to speak to. I’m a little more desperate than most. You say you like people but you aren’t so sure about me. You seem to enjoy showing people that you like helping them but you wouldn’t take a step towards me when my hands were held out. You say that any cause is worth the time but my heart isn’t enough of a cause for you to care. I live in a world different to yours but then again – we were separated from birth. You had a childhood. I have been misunderstood for most of mine.  
To be honest, I’m not too sure what it feels like to be a child.

I see situations, people and material things very differently to you. Sometimes, when there isn’t any traffic, I stare silently into the horizon. I dream of stepping into your world, or perhaps just you understanding mine. If you dared to ask me to explain. I find things overwhelming that you seem to take in your stride. You seem consumed by self awareness and analyzing everything.

I get excited over the least of things that you would find strange. The joy I get from tree shade or a couple of silver coins. My tear ducts never work. I think they died when both my parents were killed in a Xenophobic attack. But, like you, I also get mad and sad. I often hum or sing when strangers pull swear or pull faces at me. People think I am absent-minded as I walk up and down the corner of this street.

I fight for my existence.
You don’t appreciate yours.

I hold a distinctive pattern of drinking and sniffing whatever I can, whenever I can. However, believe it or not, I’m not an evil person. I’d gladly give you whatever I have or what I don’t yet have. You don’t realize how the way you ignore me hurts my soul. Perhaps it is my emaciated body, balding head and my face ravaged by ulcers that increases the chasm between us…

Large Crowds followed Jesus as he came down the mountainside. Suddenly, a man with leprosy approached him and knelt before him. “Lord”, the man said, “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean.” Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing”, he said. “Be healed!” And instantly the leprosy disappeared.
(Matthew 8: 1 – 3)

The Jewish attitude toward those with leprosy was that if you were infected you were unclean. They were required to cry out “Unclean, unclean!” warning their neighbors lest unwitting citizens accidently touched them they were religiously defiled themselves. The leper had to live alone and must live outside of the camp. If you got within a stone’s throw of someone so diseased was to jeopardize your own righteousness and reputation.

Bandanna over his face, hair dirty and mattered, clothed in rags, shouting “unclean, unclean.”

The man comes to Jesus and what does Jesus do?

He reaches out and touches him. The beauty is beyond words. 
He doesn’t NEED to touch him as there are many accounts of Jesus healing people by just saying one word. However, no one has touched this leper for a very long time. He is starved of human touch. And now Jesus is defiled in the eyes of the proper authorities. Jesus is just getting his ministry going. He has a message but credibility is fairly important at this point especially since he has begun to challenge the cherished notions of the pontifical tyrants. Jesus is almost guaranteeing he will be disqualified. Emotionally, politically, this would be the social equivalent of a rising priest or pastor giving their most important message of the year, then stepping outside the front door of the church, lighting a cigarette, and taking a good long shot of tequila straight from the bottle as the congregation files past.
Metaphorically speaking.

Jesus didn’t seem to care. He cares very deeply about the right things. He knows exactly what he is doing. The risks Jesus is willing to take with his reputation are simply stunning.

Jesus doesn’t define the leper by his disease. It is through this highly controversial act of extreme kindness, I can see him encouraging us to respond to something…

“Define me. I dare you.”


“I am convinced there are many ways to be brave. The easiest to recognize is a willingness to take physical risks that most people would not consider. One of the salient characteristics of all creatures is behaviour that conforms to a desire for self-preservation. In my view, this tendency is virtually an evolutionary imperative, to survive and reproduce. So what is it that impels some people to risk their survival on behalf of others or even in the name of an idea?”


Glimpsed in the hero’s eye of a scene out of a Oscar winning movie.
Interpreted in moments portrayed from a 16th century battlefield.
Found in the hearts of Spiderman, Hancock, Gladiator, Guinevere, Robin Hood, Braveheart, Troy...

But never fully understood by a 21ST century middle-class citizen? Right?

Everyday life happens to all of us. Going about doing what you do best. Moving in and out of deadlines and against never-ending time constraints. Finding sustained joy in the impact of truly living. Working through ever-mountainous regions of character flaws but holding the sure hope of complete transformation. One day. Seeking sunshine and beautiful rolling hills. Strolling and sometimes running to keep up with this ever-demanding world. Working for a solid salary with the fixed focus of being able to survive.

And then, without warning, it hits.

Pouring rain. 
Flooded roads. 
Sight-shocking lightening. 
Earth-shattering thunder. 
Daunting darkness.

Caught in the eye of a storm you know must pass.

It’s that telephone call that leaves your phone in pieces on the floor. That conversation you didn’t expect. The devastation of a situation you cannot control. The aching loss of someone or something. A matrix of disease and destruction that leaves you questioning the meaning of life itself and seeking out an answer. Any answer. The apple cart has been upset and the resolution remains undefined. It is never straightforward. Never scientific. Like some sick experiment gone wrong. The mystery of our existence.

Whatever it is – is a giant in the form of an obstacle to overcome. Imagine how David felt? An insignificant 18 year old boy who comes out to face Goliath with no armor, no sword, no training. A pathetic sling. That’s all. Like Moses with a stick to part an ocean of escape from a massive Egyptian army.

Goliath falls. The red sea parts.

Perhaps courage is the God-given confidence and momentum to speak and act when standing in the face of your goliath.

Courage by definition is the ability to face difficulty or danger or uncertainty or pain without being overcome with fear or being deflected from a certain course of action. Courage is the force inside of us that allows us to plot through a path and be undaunted by opposition. To not be swayed to the left or right.

There are many ways to be brave. It is not confined to one experience or moment of anti-conformity. It is not inherent within the DNA of a few chosen. It is not simply about being that individual who goes against the grain. I see it as more of a construction site in building one experience upon another. There’ll be opportunities to stand out and rise up. 

However, there are more times in life where all we can or are able to do is breathe and continue with some kind of hope that seasons change. To move on with faith when disappointment has inevitably bashed some part of us to the ground.