The other morning, I was at Next Door meeting with a contractor helping me sort out an issue with our kitchen project. He was very helpful, though in the end I was feeling discouraged, weary and stopped in my tracks. As this project has dragged on, I’ve become too familiar with this feeling, having experienced two or three other challenges along the way. And so being in that moment I just wanted to pray. Often in situations like this the prayer would be God, solve this for me! But today it was, God, come close. Aware of this hunger for God’s presence, I took a few minutes to just sit at the desk, assuming an open-handed posture and inviting God to show up.
This posture is somewhat unusual, but one I’ve learned through Sacred Space, an online site run a Jesuit group from Ireland. The site introduced me to this practice of inviting me to listen to the sounds around me, focusing on those furthest away and then gradually listening to those nearer and nearer. As the sounds close in, the invitaiton is to imagine Christ himself drawing nearer and nearer. So, I sat. And I listened. Furthest, out It was the hum of traffic on Plains Road, then voices walking through the parking lot, footsteps going past the front door, and then the radio from the convenience store. Focusing, I was suddenly startled by the shaking of the locked door. Someone was there, hoping no doubt we were open. We weren’t but I couldn’t ignore this person just a few feet away and when I looked up I discovered it was Peter. Peter the vagrant. Peter, an older disheveled man who comes through a few times a year. Peter, who I realized in the moment was Christ to me. The sound of the door was the sound of Jesus coming to me. As you likely are, I am quite familiar with Matthew 25 and the idea of Jesus being present in the poor. And perhaps like you, this is most often an idea. Today, for me, it was a reality. Jesus came near.
The story is remarkable enough for me, but it comes sort of full circle. I went out to meet Peter and after chatting out on the sidewalk, I invited him in for a coffee. I put on a pot, and Peter sat down very grateful. Peter, who is often slightly incoherent was very with it this morning and he began to speak to me about the Apostles. Then, a new thought came to him and he said to me something to the effect of this is very kind of you, you seem like Jesus.
As he said that, my mind didn’t go to scripture but to the old but not so ancient words of a Dire Straits song, two men say they’re Jesus, one of them must be wrong. The difference here is neither of us were claiming to be Jesus; but that we saw Jesus in the other. And perhaps neither of us were wrong. I know I wasn’t.