On The Road To Jericho

Every once in a while our pastor likes to mix things up a bit. Rather than read from the Bible yesterday, he showed a video that illustrated the text. No words except the first few on the screen: There was a certain man going down to Jericho. It was a familiar parable about a man being robbed and passed by 2 would-be helpers before a third man comes to his aide. As the Samaritan lifts the injured man to his donkey I notice his feet. I notice the feet of the “certain man” with no name, no further idenity and I remember Paul’s feet. It’s interesting to note that the Gospel of Luke is the only one that shares this story just as it is the only one to share the story of the prodigal. And Paul was both. He was the prodigal and he was left on the road as people passed him by.  The pastor mentioned how dangerous that road was known to be. I could see society playing the blame card, not helping because the victim got what he deserved.

I got two different stories about how my brother wound up in the hospital. One version was that he was found unconscious and an ambulance was called. Another was that he was brought to the hospital by a man who dropped him off and left. Either way, the story shifted and the “certain man” had his name written on a white board and the one who helped him remained anonymous. A few days after he was brought in, I corrected the spelling of his name, walked into his room, and noticed his feet. This “certain man” now had a name, an identity and a sister who couldn’t find the Good Samaritan to say thank you.  And he had clean feet that had undoubtedly been dirtier from being on paths I don’t even know about. He walked down roads that society said he should’ve known to stay away from. But I don’t think about where he’s been. Somebody cleaned his feet and I sense that soon they will walk on streets of gold.

It is Thursday night and I hear God calling the weary prodigal so  I don’t have time to play the blame card. I am like the Samaritan, not in the sense that I bound up wounds or paid for his care. But I did lay aside the past. These men apparently didn’t get along because of cultural differences. The Samaritan disregarded that, just as I let go of my pain. We both did it for the greater good. Paul’s Home now and I wonder what his new name is. I know his identity. Who he is, is who he always was–a  child of God.

And that is the most important identity anyone can have.

Jailbird

I think one of the biggest fears my mother had as me and Paul were growing up is that we’d follow in our grandfather’s footsteps. (She tried his shoes on for a season but, thankfully, didn’t get comfortable with the fit.) The coal miner’s angry, alcoholic imprints cast a long shadow. And, sadly, a young man missing his father did try on and get comfortable in his grandfather’s shoes.

But I did not. I eyed the shoes with caution, no I feared them. There were other shoes I could try on. After he came to Christ, my father had a fine set of footprints to follow. I think Mom always had faith stamped on the bottom of her shoe. And there was a path they walked together that I decided to follow. It was a path that would take them away from us one Sunday afternoon a month and it became an inside joke.

Our parents were jailbirds.

They and a small handful of people from church went to the local jail and sang and did a little Bible study. Well at least that’s what I think they did. We were never given the details. We just knew they were doing ministry. I’m only guessing that they did what I did yesterday. I’ve had my jail volunteer badge for about a couple of months (guess I passed the background check) and yesterday was my first opportunity to use it. I thought I’d be nervous, but I wasn’t really. I was just at a small group fellowship with a bunch of ladies all wearing the same outfit.

We sang, Open The Eyes of my Heart and there’s a line about wanting to see Jesus shining in the light of His glory. And I sang the lyric but all the while was thinking that I wanted to see Jesus in these women. I didn’t want to see the color of their bands, or the tattoos on their arms, I wanted to see Matthew 25:40. He’s talking about the sheep and the goats and the sheep have replied in verse 39. “39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (NIV). And I think I did see Jesus in the “least of these” or at the very least I saw His children.

Now I know why my parents went back every month. Being a jailbird is a good thing.

As long as I’m being a jailbird for Jesus.

 

 

Man, Life Is Awesome Sober!

When you grow up in the shadow of alcoholism like I did the word sober isn’t so little. It’s like all the other words are in a 12-point font and it’s in 76, as in 1976 when America celebrated 200 years of freedom. Sobriety is a special kind of freedom from a tyrannical slave driver. Though we all hope for it, not all men experience it. The ones that do celebrate their freedom. But I wonder if hearing the shackles of  addicts rattle makes us appreciate freedom, appreciate sobriety more. Perhaps it should. I appreciate the fact that I was never enslaved and I’m not willing to test my theory that I’d enjoy sobriety more if it was something I had to fight for. I do believe I take for granted that which I haven’t struggled with.

The title of this post was in a Facebook status from a new friend. Well, he’s not really new, I’ve known about him since he was a baby but we only recently connected on Facebook. His mother and I are friends and her parents were friends with my parents. I thought when I accepted his friend request that I was just making another connection to a wonderful family. And I have made a connection with a talented musician. But I’ve also made another connection. I’ve made a connection to that place I am at peace with. If you’ve followed my blog since the beginning you know that (unfortunately) stories of sobriety used to make me bitter. I was upset that Paul didn’t get to tell his own story. But not anymore. Now I rejoice right along with my new friend and his family. No, I haven’t actually seen any posts by his family about sobriety but I’m sure they’re celebrating. They love their son and brother and I’m sure it hurt to have him enslaved by a tyrant they could do nothing about.  

So yeah, though I haven’t experienced it any other way, I’ll have to agree. Life is awesome sober!

The Day Anger Wanted To Drive

bud  beer crashed intoThe story behind this photo is that the guy was bent on destruction so crashed his car into Wal-Mart.

 

But that’s not what I see. I see an exhausted 30-year-old who just buried her brother and was trying to let life get back to order. I see a trip to the grocery store. I see anger. I see myself resisting the urge to ram my cart into the beer display. That is why I was exhausted. I was fine going into the store but holding myself back wore me out. I had this anger in me that needed an outlet and that day it wanted to be a missle aimed at the scenery in the tragic drama that had played out in my life. Beer is an inanimate object. It can’t be blamed for people’s irresponsibility. It does have addictive qualities but we have choices and I don’t really want to get into that here.

 

I want to remember that once upon a time I had a brother and losing him made me angry enough to want to be destructive. In all honesty, I think taking the beer display out would have been more satisfying than what I did do. Journaling and talking to a grave without a marker just didn’t have the same umph. But that would’ve let anger take the wheel and drive my grief. With the passage of time the urge to take out a beer display has gone away. Still once upon a time I wanted to wreck the scenery because the actor on the stage was too drunk to remember his lines, so to speak. He was too drunk to remember he had a little sister who needed him. He exited stage right and missed his cue to return. The curtain fell, the audience left, and I stood on a black stage surrounded by emptiness.

 

When I look at the picture above I remember.

But I choose not to remember anger.

I remember that once upon a time I had a brother.

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