So where and when and how have you been noticing that you are being drawn in by the Christ lately? Drawn into intimate communion I mean. Drawn into presence. Drawn into moments when imaginary differences fall away and all that is left is oneness.
Above is a pic of some brotherly love from last week. Steve Rivera, the interim director of Project Lazarus is on the left, and Billy, a resident and attender of my church, is on the right. We were just part of the gathering to remember Tasha, their former resident and staff member, holding both her life and our loss in God’s light. Being with the staff and residents at Project Lazarus has become a highlight of my life over the past year and a half. Something shines brightly there and I want to be a part of it.
It’s weird that Jesus seems to love hanging out in places like this too. I was there for a lunch on Wednesday and then again to lead the meditation time on Friday. I got to meet and visit with several staff members who are new to me. I got to hang out with some of the residents, just visiting and sharing stories. And I am pretty sure I was also hanging out with Jesus, though I am not sure which one he was.
He might have been in Kim, the social worker who forgave me for not remembering her name from our last introduction. He might have been in William, the resident who loved describing his joy in writing a new song with other residents to share with all of us. He might have been in Emilene, the facilities staff member who was kind enough to ask questions about the cool Parker United Methodist Church that has poems and art and dancing and meditation and yoga as part of worship.
Jesus might have been in Tmoura, the resident who kidded about wanting to put his cigarette out on all the other residents. I know Jesus probably didn’t smoke, but I bet he had that same kind of silly sense of humor sometimes. I bet he could play and laugh and lighten the spirits of the overly serious religious people around him.
I am actually very sure that Jesus is in Steve, the flamboyant interim director, who cries easily when he shares about resident stories because his heart is wide open. And I believe Jesus is in Billy, the resident who loves to wear a different pair of sunglasses to my church every Sunday, and also in Antony, the resident who is quiet as a church mouse. Who knows, he might have become so quiet from hanging around my bodacious church people.
So here’s the thing. I think Jesus is using all of them, including Connie the big hearted nurse and others, to draw me into his own heart. Do you know what it is like to be drawn in by the living Christ? I bet you do.
It’s sort of like getting caught in the suction of a vacuum cleaner, but you don’t mind being sucked in. It’s sort of like catching a faint whiff of a gardenia bush you are passing, and you really want to find the source of that delicious scent. It’s a lot like hearing your grandchild laughing in another room, and you just want to drop everything to get in on the fun. And it is exactly like reaching over to touch your wife’s face in the dark just before falling off to sleep. Jesus is in all of that, just like he’s in all those people at Project Lazarus. He is hiding himself in all such places so that we are being drawn in by the Christ all over the place, if we are super lucky enough to be awake at the right moment
Here’s the thing: sometimes we are extra blessed and we notice that Jesus is there, hanging out right beside us, even in some of the most unlikely places on the planet, like residential treatment facilities for people with AIDS, an addiction or two, and possibly a mental illness on top of it. If you throw the large number of people from the LGBT community into the mix, you will probably find a lot of Jesus in there.
Just sayin’ we might let go of thinking we are the ministers in this crazy world and notice how Jesus is using all kinds of people to draw us into himself. It’s us who are being drawn in, isn’t it?
For more stories like this see Monks in the World: Seeking God in a Frantic Culture, also available as a Kindle book.