On reading the parable of the sheep and the goats:

Though it is often unconscious, we tend to imagine ourselves taking part in the stories we read.  For example, in Lord of the Rings, one may identify more closely with Aragorn, while another relates to Frodo.  This perspective colors the way we experience the story.

I have always read this parable as an invocation to show compassion to the poor and hungry.  This has been more or less successful at various points in my life.  At its worst, if I refuse to follow the greater implications, it may result in my dropping an extra coin in the hat of the neighborhood beggar.

However, my living situation has dramatically shifted the way I read this passage.  Most days, I do not know from where my next meal will come.  The pep rally for the poor has been transformed into a hymn of thanksgiving.

Instead of a reminder to give when I see those in need, I am made thankful because of those who have given to me.  When I was hungry, Martha gave me something to eat.  When I was a stranger, Thabiso invited me in.

Additionally, the idea of shelter, accommodation, or dwelling place has begun to resonate strongly with me.

“Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.” (Psalm 90:11)

“If you make the Most High your dwelling…then no harm will befall you.” (Psalm 91:9)

As I read this last verse, I turned slightly, pivoting on the surprisingly comfortable stump of wood we use as a stool, and looked admiringly upon my home.  A different sense of “dwelling” to be sure.  But that didn’t quell my sense of satisfaction.


Ode to Travel

Traveling is the soaring of zippers, the snapping of clasps, the whoosh of Velcro and the scrape of vinyl.  It is often chapped lips, sunburn, blisters, colds and dehydration.  It involves being alternately scintillated and horrified by prevailing scents and often being shocked at the smell of your own clothing.

Regretfully, it usually includes the building and abandoning of intense and intimate relationships.

You take uncertainty with your early morning coffee and gratitude with your afternoon tea.  By dinner, your world is larger.

Vulnerability, intentional deprivation, disorientation, insecurity, and bewilderment all nourish the tree which bears the fruits of humility, gratitude, and wonder. 

The great dividend is joy at simple things: a long-awaited hot shower, a Kleenex or real toilet paper instead of a scrap of newspaper, a chance to charge your camera battery.  Having basic needs met becomes a real thrill and life somehow feels differently, like your favorite sweatshirt fresh out of the dryer.