This was once my home. The lean-to for the tempest. The cross it welcomed the pain. The silence invited the joy. And the spirit could be heard.
It certainly is the passing of time. But maybe also it… Or me… Or both. For, here now, I am broken. I mourn.
“Sanctuary!” I cried, “Sanctuary!” But now, now I simply cry. For what was once a den of refuge has since become a den of thieves.
I have been meditating on the parable of the Good Samaritan for about two months in relationship to the death of George Floyd, and then the poet, David Whyte in a recent online seminar talked about the Good Samaritan as meeting the stranger! It got me to continue thinking about different aspects of the parable. Wondering if I was the wounded person? Well I’d written a poem about that. Wondering if I was one of the people who walked by? And why would I do that? What would I be afraid of? Wondering if I was the Samaritan and did I walk by only to come back? And what drew me back?
Wonder if I’m still the wounded person and I find myself looking at me? Do I know where those wounds come from? Am I willing to help this wounded me or will I walk on as though I haven’t seen?
Yesterday (July 22) I was out for my walk and almost home. A little girl ran up to me and told me her name, I told her mine. Then she spelled her name for me. She is 6 and had just turned 6. She was riding a little scooter with pink wheels which I appreciated very much. She couldn’t have a birthday party because of the virus….didn’t I know. She is in kindergarten like my grandson and where does he live? Very far away. And her tooth so loose it is dangling, hanging by one thread and I think it will come out today and she is very excited, because it’s her first! Well, I should go, I told her (because she is talking to a stranger and I worry about her openness). Which way am I going? Up the block and to the right. So I’m going this way and then that? Yes. Ok, let’s go. Wait, I say and ask, do your parents let you go around the block? Yes, my dad says its ok. So she rides the sidewalk and I walk the boulevard. I notice the slope and am sure that it is fun to ride down and then hear that the other side of the block is better and she will show me.
I move onto the street and around a car, and there she is waiting for me, because she is faster with her wheels than I am with my feet. I move around another and there she is again loving the game she is creating out of absences. And when we reach the other side of the block, I stop and watch as she sails down the slope of the sidewalk to the alley. She knows I have watched, and when she stops, she turns and waves and yells goodbye.
I met a stranger yesterday morning and so did she….but, which one am I?
I stand looking at the body
lays in rocky ruts,
the angles are all wrong.
Here I stare,
standing with this person
is jagged as the rocks.
… Third in line, yet all alone,
I stand as outcast
so tempting to pass on.
To simply move aside.
For who am I?…
Not my problem.
Not my neighbor.
Not my friend.
Not my business.
… I could pretend
that I have not seen.
Yet I cannot unsee
how ugly are these wounds,
or move along alone.
I cannot move aside.
From some unknown place
I must find the strength
to heft this body
into healing space
…I must pay
for I cannot move aside.
As I’ve thought and wrestled with the tumult our society finds itself in…the political divide and the racial wounds, the parable of the Good Samaritan came to mind. The story of a man, a person, who had been robbed and beaten, and left half dead on the road must be prefaced with the question that was asked of Jesus: Who is my neighbor? So Jesus tells the story.
First came a priest, then a levite, and both passed by. Then a Samaritan (third in line) came along and had compassion on the fellow who had been beaten and left half dead. He bandaged him, put him on his donkey and took him to an inn. He took care of the man’s immediate needs and then paid for his lodging till he returned.
When Jesus is finished telling the story, he asks, “Which of the three who saw the man was the neighbor?” It was the third in line, the one who didn’t move along alone.
We have seen some painful things in the recent months. Pain that has been with us for centuries. Can we continue to pretend that we have not seen? It is hard to watch the history. Hard to listen to the stories. Hard to see the anger. It is real work to create safe spaces for those who have been wounded…but that is a small payment and I cannot move aside.