Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Apparently I'm having a p*sting spasm

Today at lunch I sat silent in the middle of a spirited conversation between three women about their parents attitude to their sexual habits. All three of these women were single. All of them had, at some point or another, lived common-law. One of them was still in a committed relationship - the other two weren't. I sat silent because what is there to say that doesn't sound like a judgemental Jesus freak? "I don't think it's emotionally healthy to be sexually involved with someone you're not married to."? I don't mind sounding like a Jesus freak, but I do mind sounding judgemental. I held my tongue. And wished them all peace.

When I left work there was a man wearing dirty old clothes with unkempt hair sitting in the sunshine, holding out a filthy green ball cap. I smiled at him and he smiled a lovely smile in return, and inclined his head. I walked by because I never give money to panhandlers even though I feel guilty about it for blocks and blocks and blocks afterwards. An inner nudge made me go back and put ten dollars in his cap.

"God bless you" he said.

"Well, I'm pretty sure He just told me to give you that" I replied, "so God bless you."

I walked away praying for him to use it wisely, but then I thought - what would Jesus have done? I can't say for sure, but I know there was a time that He healed ten lepers, most of whom bounded away whole and healed without a backwards glance. Only one returned to say thank you. Jesus didn't say "Okay here's the deal. I will heal you, but you need to be grateful, and then you need to go on to lead productive lives." He just did what was there in front of Him to do.

It's four blocks from where I work to where we park. I passed a few more homeless people, and then a group of three ragged dirty men, each carrying a dozen or so cans of beer in plastic bags. I wanted to stop and shake them. I wanted to say "Of course I don't know how it feels to be you, to be where you are, me with my obviously too well-fed body and my purse full of cash and my house in the suburbs, but I do know how it feels to make one bad choice. And then another and another and another until you look up and realize you have dug yourself into a hole so huge there's no getting out, and so you just sit back down in the dirt and give up. And I also know that nothing gets fixed overnight, but one good choice could lead to another one and another one and then another one and maybe one day you won't have to be living from beer to beer."

And then I looked around in the spring sunshine and thought "What kind of a horrible world have we created? Take what you want when you want it, whatever feels good - let tomorrow look after itself."

And suddenly it all felt so hopeless, so incredibly hopeless. What I am doing writing? What possible difference can one more book set in an imaginary world make to this world, these people, this pain? Or a few poems talking about my own personal hurts in a way that makes people feel understood.

And yet.

I am called to obey, to do what is front of me, and no matter which way I turn these days, it's the book that's in front of me. Even if I have no idea why.


Heather said...

We were talking about a similar topic at work today and someone pointed out that Micah 6:8 says that we are to "seek" justice. It doesn't say that we're supposed to have it all figured out, or that we can wrap it up in a neat little package - it just says to seek. I think that's what you're doing and what God requires of you.

Slow'n'Steady said...

I know God better because of you. I'm more encouraged.
I'm more sensitive.

As the grumpy old man said to the boy throwing sand dollars back into the ocean from where the tide had beached them: "Give up, kid, it's not making any difference - there's too many of them."

The boy bent down and threw another back into the sea with a flourish, then said: "It made a difference to that one."

Keep writing.
from a happy sand dollar

Angela said...

I think you hit it when you mentioned obedience. What were you nudged to do today? (By the Spirit,that is.)

If you did it, you are doing your part. I'm doing mine. Billy Graham is doing his. (Even the devil is doing his!) But together, we are working out God's sovereign plan for the universe.

He's already got it all figured out. All we have to do is obey. :-)

I know, it's a mystery.


Krista said...

I don't know about the homeless and downtrodden, but I know I'm always in need of an imaginary world to escape to now and again. Reality can be a painful place to live in. Without good writers and people to whisk me away to places where there's hope even in the darkest times I don't know if I could truly feel hopeful that my own life's story will work itself out.

Write on, sister. Write on.

Kay said...

I can't be much encouragement when I am feeling overwhelmed by the garbage of this life myself.
But I do know that we are the Light of the World and seeing all the darkness makes me realize how much that light is needed.
Here is an interesting blog - written by a former homeless man about his homeless friends. It has it's moments of "real" language, but provides great insight into that world.

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