A doctor’s office is not typically regarded as a blessed meeting place. But picture the amazing exchanges that occur there, the intimate sharing.
What makes it work are the gifts of trust and connection that form in the room. In an average day in my practice I see a variety of patients: old, young, rich, poor, white, black, brown, gay, straight, Christian, Muslim. I see triathletes and those with Parkinson’s disease, new patients and familiar ones.
All arrive anxious, apprehensive, tender and yet mostly optimistic.
I’ve learned many things by entering the microcosm of the exam room. I’ve learned that black lives matter because the young paraplegic black man in front of me matters. I’ve learned that love wins because the two women in front of me show love and concern for each other in their every word and expression. I’ve learned that we are a land of immigrants because the Latino father and roofer in front of me is a recent immigrant.
And I’ve learned that our prisons are full of people who desperately need rehabilitation rather than warehousing because the prisoner in front of me is lonely, broken and not defined by his worst act.
Jesus knew that the essence of all life is goodness. He stayed among the poor and marginalized, touching and teaching people. He didn’t spend time on church boards. He didn’t ask people to recite creeds, nor help lobbyists push through laws that excluded the vulnerable.
He resisted the dominant culture, proclaiming a God of abundance, not scarcity. He preached love, not fear. He taught that when we personally know someone we experience the web of life.
Jesus enjoined us to love our enemy and pray for those who persecute us. He healed the blind, the lame, the mentally ill and the anemic without questioning ethnicity, gender or economic status. He healed their disease even if it was at an inconvenient time, and then extended an extravagant welcome into the Beloved Community.
Oh, I still have dark corners in my soul. At times I revert to small-mindedness and bigotry. But I pray for a merciful heart, and I thank God for the grace that allows me to keep trying to get it right.
Ultimately all I have is this moment. This Jesus that is in front of me. This person who needs me and who is me. Small talk becomes holy when we find common ground.
Everyone has opportunities for this type of connection. Moments when we sense that we have the same needs and desires, that we are created and loved. The truth is we are all wonderfully made, unique yet universal. Following his transcendental experience on the streets of Louisville, Ky., Trappist monk Thomas Merton said, “There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”
I pray that one day we may all see this radiance in one another.
Brandon Pomeroy, one of The Star’s Faith Walk writers, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.