I’m reposting a bit I wrote for Amber last year. I felt the need to remind myself of some things.
It is best to use discretion when taking notes on a potential rebellion, so I stand slump-shouldered next to the most average looking man I can find. There are always rules to be followed, and I carefully draw my limbs inward so as not to rub shoulders with the common cold carriers or the prostitutes around me. There are so many prostitutes.
A young boy stands beside me, dirty and smelly. His shirt is reduced to rags. He jumps up and down, hoping to see his hometown hero. His father, laughing at all the efforts of a five-year old, reaches under the boy’s shoulders and hoists him atop his own. The boy sees the target of his affection now, and his face radiates joy that comes only from one unacquainted with the law.
Give him time. He will see the futility of un-burdened joy.
At thirty-two, I understand much that the crowd does not. Purity has a price; discipline is godliness in fact; mercy and law are intertwined. To see, we must do. It is not enough to sit atop a father’s shoulders and radiate. Understanding this has made me successful. A Pharisee, I mete out justice to many in this crowd on a regular basis. I have esteem and respect. They do not.
These are the people of rebellion: people discontent with the practice of purity; people willing to negotiate affections to make a living; lepers who do not respect proximity. They say they want “healing” but are unwilling to sacrifice. These people cannot know God. And I, the one who drew this short-straw note-taking assignment, stand the only worthy one among them. A true rabbi would not choose this crowd.
The cripples occupy the front row, and more are being carried forward by the minute. Directly behind them stand the prostitutes and tax collectors. I see the pan handler who sits outside of my house. He is there with the other poor and needy. And, as usual, he continues to jingle that blasted cup of copper coins. I want to tell him–jingling is not magnetic; it will not attract more.
John is standing off to the side—not the one called “disciple,” but the formerly devout one who is now leprous. His eyes, the only part of his body not covered in leper’s garb, are fixed on the thirteen men.
Jesus stands and the masses fall pin-drop silent. His eyes begin to pick the crowd apart, darting from heart to heart. He is magnetic and his positive meets my negative and our gazes lock. And with the knowing eyes of my mother, he invades me, and his voice thunders wrath:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs in the kingdom of heaven.”
As an aside, every month I send a “collective update” to the subscribers of this site. In it, I share a bit of my recent story and ask the other subscribers to share a bit of their stories. I look forward to it every month, and this month is no exception. If you’d like to participate, become an email subscriber (see the box in the right column?).