Comfortably Numb

I’m supposed to be working on my homework now, explaining what a Marcan Sandwich is and delving smugly into a question about how the gospel writers were not, in fact, close personal friends with their close and personal savior.

But Trump is coming on the TV soon to talk about how great he is, to say a lot a lot of times, and Hilary is supposed to win in NY too. But I saw something tonight that snapped me back to my senses.

It is so easy to fall into this lull, this numb place where nothing can touch and nothing can hurt; nothing can be too close. It is easy to feel only anger and frustration, but never love, never empathy or sorrow, and because we tell the truth here I’ll tell you that I’ve been in that wide ravine of disdain lately, low down in the brush of I can’t care as long as I don’t know.

So I’ve ignored the news, I’ve a vague idea that something terrible has happened in Ecuador, that there are still women and children stranded all over Greece and the middle east and Europe as we somehow rethink our earlier goodwill and welcome.

I saw a fox though. Driving through my urban little village. I saw his long slinky dog form cross the road and I slowed down and he looked right at me with bright black eyes as he ate something dead in the ditch.

And I was reminded that there is a wild world out there, and I realized that I’ve been hiding though I wasn’t even fully aware of that. I was reminded that underneath the seeming tidiness of our green turning lawns and bounteous flower beds with their daffs and hyacinths that something wilder and more base lurks. That so much of who we are and what we love and what we are willing to do to hold onto our stuff is hidden behind pretty little fences and fake smiles.

Last Sunday was the only Sunday so far, in this more than five years string of Sundays, that I’ve felt so ill. I struggled to not drool during the service, to hold myself upright and to not squint at people out of my foggy eyes. I remember though that we talked about Jesus and how he isn’t who we want him to be, not who we hope he would be.

I’ve completed one of my homework assignments and it talked about the Lord’s Prayer and the time during which that prayer was written. That “give us today our daily bread” was because of the hunger and the poverty that existed under Roman rule, that this prayer called people into a vision of the way God’s kingdom would look, not the kingdom they resided in currently, taxed within an inch of their lives, captured and enslaved, many, many bands of rebels crucified on hills and shamed by burial in mass graves; and here I thought Jesus and the two men were the only three people crucified ever. Apparently it was a pretty regular, and still horrific, way to die.

And we watched a movie the other night about the building of the Berlin wall, and just blocks away the bedlam of people climbing out of windows and dropping down over the wall was played out as people lined up and passed small children out and over with bags and boxes, musical instruments and books, desperate not to be caught on the wrong side of that wall.

And we have walls like that wall, you just can’t see them. They exist in the dark places in our hearts that we hide from the world behind our bright smiles and our absolute refusal to see the spectre of the wall at the edge of our very own garden. They exist for the people on the other side living daily in the shadow of an oppression that we contribute to with our very existence and refusal to see or acknowledge the pain that is present in our world.

We have walls that help us to not see the people who come early to coffee hour and drink coffee and wait for that free meal, to not see the cars parked way in the back at Meijer fogged with the breath of sleeping children, the overdue school lunch accounts and the evictions and the low paying jobs with no place to live.

We live in a system that doesn’t allow people to move ahead, because they are always scrabbling over the wall, always just casting about for a hand hold, they don’t have another hand free to hold savings or wealth or security.

Jesus comes riding up though, in a big old Ford truck, and he revvs the engine some, and he accidentally backs into our pretty garden wall and we’re amazed. This isn’t what Jesus was supposed to do. He was supposed to walk with us in our walled in garden and sing to us and tell us we are his own. He was supposed to soothe the angry and selfish beasts that live in our souls with unintelligible parables and beautiful church services in English on major holidays.

A woman on Twitter retweeted the other day a prominent Reverend saying that Rome killed Jesus. And I had to reply, even though I don’t know her, even with the very slight chance of this Reverend reading what I said, that Rome didn’t kill Jesus. WE DID.

We did.

The religious killed Jesus, go get your bible out and look it right up, because the passion is one account the gospels seem to agree on. Pilate threw him back, Pilate said he couldn’t think of anything to charge him with, ROME said NO. And we killed him anyway because he wasn’t who we thought he should be, because he had more interest in backing over and demolishing our walls that he did in making us feel happy and safe and in a personal relationship.

And here we are, all these years later (some of us avoiding homework), still telling a story that shifts the blame from us, still trying to make ourselves comfortable.

Jupiter is ascending, she will spread her skirts and sit at the right hand of the moon high in the sky. And in the morning, when the moon calls it a night and goes off to brush his teeth, and Jupiter walks down the corridor with her ladies to be put to bed as well, the sun will rise. It will sparkle on our invisible garden walls, opalescent with dew. One day you will go out to your garden and see the hammer that is laying there on the wall, and you will lift it up and hit the wall.

Things inside of you will shift, it won’t be very pleasant. But you will hit it again and again and one brick will fall out and a hand will reach through, it will be small and dirty and it will hold you too tight.

That is the world, friend, reaching for you.

I know that I hide too. I know that I wish Jesus would come and just duet with me, I’m sure he had a lovely tenor and we could learn some new songs together, I wish I could ask him questions, ask after my friends Stefanie and Andy, if he’s seen that old cat I loved so much around lately. I know that my wall is intact too, with only a few bricks missing here and there.

But tomorrow morning I’m going to make myself pick up the hammer. I’m going to open another hole and grasp the hand that comes through. I’m going to hope for a day when I maintain an open border policy between my garden and the world, when my house, my soul and my heart are a resting place and an oasis for the hurting and the broken. Where we can amass an army around the campfire ring and hang more clotheslines and finally march together to break down all of the walls that keep people just where we want them.

Go and look tomorrow, squint in the early morning sun and see if your wall is there, take in the shape of it and how far it goes on, almost out of sight, protecting you from all that Jesus was and all that he IS and all that still can be.

I love you still. Maybe that dirty hand reaching through the hole in the wall is my own, would you take it?


Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. 




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