Touching the untouchable in you and me

Acknowleding our brokenness and need is the path to wholeness. (Listen.)

When I was fourteen, our family moved to Washington, DC. I will never forget the day we arrived. We drove downtown, and everywhere I looked, I saw tents and tarpaulins, refrigerator boxes and flapping plastic sheets. ‘What’s happening?’ I asked, ‘I mean, what’s with all the tents?’ I had never seen a homeless person before, and I didn’t understand that this is how many people live. And I never became accustomed to it: that, in the capital city of the richest country in the world, thousands of people live on the streets. Continue reading “Touching the untouchable in you and me”

Martha Made Whole

Inviting Christ into your dwelling means being renovated from the inside out. (Listen.)

If ever there’s a story which makes women angry, it’s probably this one. Mary, that goody two-shoes, is lazing adoringly at Jesus’ feet; while I—well, I’m stuck in the kitchen washing the bloody dishes and making sure there’s food to eat. Because someone has to serve the guests, and someone has to clean up afterwards, and someone has to sweep the crumbs off the floor. And if everyone just lolls about listening to Jesus, we’d never eat a vegetable and the house would be a total mess. And yet … Jesus praises Mary. That bitch. Continue reading “Martha Made Whole”

Not me, Lord!

Healing leads to responsibility and conflict. (Listen.)

You are lying by the pool, daydreaming a little. Clouds are scudding across the sky. Your eyes are gently closed; the sun caresses your face; shades of dark and light flicker across your eyelids. You’re half awake, half asleep. As you doze, you hear the gentle lapping of water against the pool wall. You hear the click of a cane as someone shuffles past. You hear the murmur of low voices. Every now and then, there is the rustle of cloth and a soft sigh as someone rearranges their aching limbs, trying to find some ease. Continue reading “Not me, Lord!”

Healed to Serve

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The disciples have returned from preaching and healing around the villages. In the face of people’s need, they have barely had time to eat, so Jesus invites them to come away to a deserted place and rest awhile. Yet the crowd guesses where they’re going, and meets them there. When Jesus sees the mob, his guts wrench with compassion, and he begins to teach and heal once again …  Continue reading “Healed to Serve”

Living Death, or Resurrection Life: You Choose

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Kathleen Norris tells a story of two women she knew, both of whom were diagnosed with terminal cancer. The first woman said, “If I ever get out of this hospital, I’m going to look out for Number One.” Despite the diagnosis, she survived, and went on to live only for herself—and, as Norris writes, “it made her mean.” The second reflected on the blessings of her life, despite some acute early losses. This woman read the Psalms, and said to Norris, “The one thing that scares me is the pain. I hope I die before I turn into an old bitch.” And that’s exactly what happened.  Continue reading “Living Death, or Resurrection Life: You Choose”

The Testimony of Touch

Listen here.

Who among you feels unclean? Perhaps you have a mental illness, and have learned to hide it. Perhaps you have thoughts or feelings which make you ashamed. Perhaps you have been touched in ways for which you blame yourself. Perhaps your identity is condemned by politicians, or the religious, or the mass media. Perhaps you are indigenous, raised to pass for white. Perhaps you are HIV-positive, and terrified of infecting others. Perhaps, like me, your hands erupt in eczema, and you often need to hide them. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.  Continue reading “The Testimony of Touch”

Bent out of shape

When I was in the seventh grade, we all did drama at school. One day, each of us had to walk like somebody else. One girl walked slowly across the room. Her hands were folded in front of her. Her back was curved over, her shoulders were hunched, she stared at the ground as she walked. It was the saddest thing I’d ever seen. I said something to the kids next to me about how awful it was, and wondered aloud who walked like that. The kids laughed. “Are you joking?” they said, “Don’t you know? Anyone can see that it’s you.” Continue reading “Bent out of shape”

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