March 12, 2009

forest for the trees

i had a small epiphany while i was people watching at school a few days ago.

i was sitting on a bench under a redwood tree, thinking about the things  my painting teacher had said about her view of God.  she had said them casually and with sad eyes... how she'd lived too long one way to change and how the church is chauvinistic.

the opposition is in the air.  
so is the deep-seated pain.
from the second floor of the art building to the bench beneath the redwood tree to the .6 mile walk home, i cover my mouth to breathe.  
there is a feeling of being overwhelmed.

between watching people walk to and from classes to the rhythm of my ipod music (a surreal by-product of listening to music that isnt much faster than a heart beat) i read in matthew 25 about the sheep and the goats.  

maybe its the hippy in me, but i am a shameless liker of "the message" bible.  this is how it phrases Jesus' words to the sheep and goats:  "Then the King will say: 'whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me- you did it to me...whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me- you failed to do it to me."

in surfer lingo, we call a verse like that gnarly.

obviously what really struck me was the "overlooked and ignored section."  and how in real life it is a section.  a section of people about whom we are being watched, to see how we react.  Jesus reacted to them by BEING them.  one reason i read the message bible is because i know what the text says in the formal language; "the least of these my brethren" is what that section of people is called.

i realized that the caustic fumes brewing beneath our fallen beings will get stronger, but being overwhelmed for the lack of fresh air isnt the right response.  that's called panic.  it stops a  person from thinking straight.  instead, i think what Jesus is saying to me, to us, is to stop ignoring the needs of the people around me that i notice.  

"i was hungry and you fed me...i was in prison and you came to me," the rabbi says.  i found myself one way, and you wouldnt let me get away with it, even for just a moment, both emotionally and physically.

i have noticed that when a person really is able to show God's love to people, there is usually no lack of a hungry and lonely and thirsty section lined up for just a second's worth of pure, fresh light.  think peggy pottenger: need i say more.

its because a person who shows God's love isnt ignoring what he or she notices about other's needs just because its easier.  

i dont know.  i guess it helps sometimes to take the bigger picture and narrow it down to my part.  

its a funny feeling to have permission to miss the forrest for the trees.


Robin said...


Katie Mitchell said...

cassaroo. gosh i love reading what you write. that was something i needed to hear... and will probably need to hear again. i miss you. i miss your honesty. you've always been someone who i know wasn't making me feel better by "being nice" but you've loved me deeply and called me out. you are genuine. i hope that you continue to grow and bless others with that.