A place to begin


John 9:1-3:

1As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.”

The disciples want to place blame. Their posture can be referred to as fault-finding, judgment and condemnation. Jesus calls attention to the opportunity to heal, to do good, to make a beginning.

Some people want to reject others who are in bad circumstances. I have written enough about folk who are in dire straits:

  • Priscilla, whose mother threw her into a dumpster at birth
  • Jeanette, who has schizophrenia
  • Jimmy and Maurice, who are both mentally ill and addicted (“dual diagnosis”)
  • The dual diagnosis population who make up most of the homeless who can’t or won’t stay in shelters
  • Jamarion Lawhorn, the 12-year-old murder suspect whose dual diagnosis stepfather beat him every day. Years before, his dual diagnosis mother gave up parental rights to two younger siblings; the two-year-old had multiple fractures and cigarette burns.
  • Then there is Terry Reed, the quadriplegic panhandler about whom Dan Rodricks wrote. He is now enrolled in a program housed at the mission where I stay. He is a former student of mine; I was his seventh grade English teacher. The fact is, he’s more agile, more mobile, than I am. The fact is also that he was born without arms or legs.

Related: “Just how bad do you think you’ve got it?”

I have no difficulty accepting people who are in a bad place, even if some family members have difficulty accepting me. There is another dimension.

Whether you’re in a good place or a bad place is one thing. In what direction you’re facing, is another. Is your chosen path in life positive or negative? It used to really bother me to see people who have chosen a direction in life directly opposite of what I have chosen for myself. It was right on target for my need, that Pastor mentioned in a sermon months ago, the need to learn not just to accept, but even love, people who are engaged in destructive activity.

No matter what place he or she is in, and no matter what direction she or he is facing, it’s a place to begin. The only place to begin.

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