Tattered Man

On Wednesday, I met with my monthly “Check-in” group. We talk, in this group, about how it’s going for us as an apprentice of Jesus – what is going well, where we struggle, where God may be calling us, etc. We help each other stay accountable to the journey. Afterwards, we go to lunch.

That morning in Centering Prayer, I tried to still my mind, or at least ignore its chatter for 20 minutes. I struggled to keep from following my mind down numerous rabbit trails, but I got caught on one. I started wondering if I had enough money for lunch. (Sort of an aside – I carry $20 in my purse whose sole purpose is to be given to a beggar who may be asking. When I give this money away, I tell the person that Jesus loves them, and then I let go. It’s God’s problem where it goes. Rarely, I get a check not to do it. I often get a little nudge that I need to give.)

But, as I was considering my purse’s financial situation (I could use that $20), a “movie” started playing in my head. It just dropped in and kept going. This is how it played: My friends and I were leaving the restaurant when I noticed that outside the door, sitting propped against the wall, was a man. He was skinny, ragged and looked in pretty bad shape. His hands lay on his lap where he held a small empty cup. He looked like he hadn’t eaten for some time. I got my money, squeezed it into his hand and said, “Jesus loves you.” I started to leave but I knew I couldn’t. I knelt close to ask if he had a place to go. He shook his head, so I knew he was homeless and I could not leave, but I didn’t know what to do. I asked my friends to go inside and get water and bread. He needed more help than $20 could provide.

I wondered, frantically, if there was anyone I could call to take him to the hospital or a shelter. Should I call the police? I wondered if there was room anywhere for him. I thought, “Is there any room at all in the inn?” I almost felt panicky. I started crying and became aware that, over my shoulder, Jesus was crying, too. Then, as suddenly as it started, the “movie” came to an end.

I sat in my prayer chair and pondered. What does this vision mean? I thought of Lazarus and the rich man, when the rich one walked on by. Is that me? I pondered bread and water. Why not bread and wine—Eucharistic symbols? I heard “the water is living water” like with Jesus and the Samaritan woman in John 4. “Jesus answered [her], ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst…[it] will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 7:38 says, “let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’”

A thought came: “Perhaps the tattered man is you” (meaning me). Do I need living water and bread right now? Are there empty spaces where I need water from the Spirit? Is it getting hard to let Living Water flow from me? Is there room in the inn? Is there room in me? What can I do? I only know to sit silently with Jesus, let him fill me with Spirit water, and never neglect meeting in community—the body of Christ, so I will.

Finally, one last thought, “Maybe the tattered man is you” (meaning you).

Bless you, dear ones.

~ Donna

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