Tag: kindness

Matthew 11:28

I don’t personally, to my knowledge, know any terrorists.  The closest thing i have in my address book are a few friends who are, as the expression goes, “proudly redneck.” But i do have friends and acquaintances from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, India, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and a host of other countries that are far less politically flammable. None of them has ever given even the slightest hint of being a terrorist. Even the Moroccans next door- They may be complete schmukeroons, but they are unlikely to be terrorists (They are so loud, nothing about them is a secret.) If any of them, even the neighbors,  needed a place to rest their head, i would gladly open my door. Without hesitation. Them or their family. It’s the right thing to do for people in need.

This time of year, the story of Mary and Joseph is front and center. Inn after inn turning them away. Mary, on the edge of giving birth, and no one will give them rest. No room. No room at the inn. You can’t stay here. No can do. Keep on walking and take your ass with you.

So Mary gives birth to Jesus in a barn. (It wouldn’t surprise me if the animals in residence curled up close, as many animals are wont to do when they see a baby of any kind in need.) In the beautiful Christmas stories, Mary and Joseph make do and go on with the tasks at hand, without further thought of the innkeepers. But i am willing to bet that they were pissed. And sad. For their own situation, the pitiful start of their beloved son, and the state of mankind itself.  What kind of people turn away a near-term pregnant woman on a cold night? Even in the womb, Jesus must have been shaking his wee head and saying, “No wonder God is sending me!”

We hear the story of Mary and Joseph every year. Lets face it, Christian or not, at least in the U.S., you know how the story goes. It’s part of the reason we are kinder and more thoughtful this time of year.

Theoretically.

But we’ve become terribly hardened and paranoid. The unconscionable attacks on innocents by terrorists, which seem to be on the rise, have us all on the edge of our seats as if we’re watching someone crank the handle on a jack-in-the-box. It’s coming. We know it is. Those fanatics are everywhere and they are out to get us all. Those crazies, with their brown skin and head wraps and accents. Evil. The whole lot of them.  The entire brown population. Up to no good. Because, you know, none of them are average Joes, just trying to make ends meet. None of them go home and read bedtime stories to their kids. None of them are afraid. None of them are human.

So now we have a bunch of refugees clamoring to get into our country. Normally, we’d show off the Statue of Liberty and all her virtues and principles. We’d welcome them. Start charities to help them get on their feet. Help take care of their children. Just like we have refugees of times past. Sure, they’d face some discrimination because, you know, we’re human and all. But we’d help them. These refugees, however, we won’t help. Because they’re brown. Ergo, they aren’t human. So much for our principles.

Nope. No room. No room at the inn. You can’t stay here. Keep on moving and take your camel with you.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m afraid of the crazies just as much as everyone else. ISIS, ISIL, the KKK, the neo-nazis, Westboro Baptist Church, and Tom Cruise all terrify me. But i realize that the crazies are far fewer in number than the average Joes. I also realize that i can’t hold all brown people accountable for the actions of ISIS any more than i can hold all Christians accountable for the Westboro Baptist Church. It’s unfair, and it makes life far less interesting for all.

So, how do we embrace our humanity and find room at the inn without being foolish and unsafe? I don’t think we should be Motel 6 and leave the light on for just anyone. We have a decent refugee screening process, so that helps.  Maybe we should just have them stay in the barn. You know, like the badlands in North Dakota or something. (No, i’m not serious.) (But it’s better than turning them away.) (So maybe i am. ) (A little.) (If i was certain it wouldn’t become a prison.) (But i’m not.)

To be truthful, i don’t have a real answer. All i have is a feeling deep in my heart that it goes against everything this country stands for, everything my Christian friends profess, and everything humane to refuse to help refugees. People need our help. They are as afraid of the crazies as we are. They are also afraid of the people who are also afraid of the crazies. Us. I don’t blame them. I am afraid of us too. But i refuse to let my fear get the best of me.

Come in. It’s cold out. Let me get you some tea. And a blanket. You can stay here. Bring the goat. I will give you rest.

 

The Little Brown Man

October 28, 2014 at 8:22pm

I kiss and hug my friend, Superman, at the rotunda and we each head down our respective concourses. I am exhausted. My feet hurt. My chest feels like it’s been filled with the stuff that makes fart noises when you pack it into its container. But i’m smiling. I’ve had a most awesome weekend, and i’m on my way home to my weedlings.

I stop at the Starbucks and order a tea-latte-formerly-known-as-London-Fog and a scone. Make my way to the gate. It’s pretty crowded, 30 minutes to boarding, but there’s a seat by the windows. I plunk my tired arse down, smile and nod to the other passengers around me, settle my bags and dig into my scone. It tastes good, but as scones are wont to be, it is rather dry. I start to cough. Take a sip of my TLFKALF, but it’s piping hot, so it doesn’t help. Still coughing. It sounds terrible, all wet and gunky and crumb spewing. It hurts even worse. People are staring. My abs, or what passes for them anyway, are clenching. It stops long enough for me to catch my breath and grab a pack of kleenex from my purse.

Then it begins again. My eyes are watering, my nose is running, and i think i may have wet my pants. This is the cough to end all coughs. I can’t see. I can’t breathe. I’m so hot that i’m certain my clothing has caught fire and my own sweat has put it out. My rib cage is ripping in half and my trachea is exploding. People are picking up their bags and moving away as i cough up Jimmy Hoffa. Pleasegodpleasegodpleasemakeitstop.

And it does. For about 15 seconds.

Then it’s a tsunami of force from my gut so hard that i nearly blow a hole in my sleeve where i have buried my face. All of my senses have deserted me, i most certainly have wet my pants, the other passengers are cowering in the corner no doubt thinking i have ebola, and the ticket agent is on the phone, i am certain, with the TSA. I cough until i there is so much negative pressure in my lungs that if i could breathe, i’d likely suck in the racks of chairs around me with my next breath. I desperately try my drink one more time. It helps. I sip again. it starts to wane. I wipe the snot from my face with my kleenex, stuff all the icky ones into my starbucks bag, wheeze in some blessed recycled airport air and slump down in my seat. Then i hear the voice.

With a backdrop of horrified passengers, a tiny man appears in front of me. Indian, Armenian, something short, dark, and kindly like that. And in his sweet, lilting voice, he says, “I think you need this.”

He drops a Ricola into my hand, smiles with genuine empathy, and backs away.

I am so stunned by the smallness, and yet hugeness, of the gesture that i am at a loss for words. I clasp the cough drop to my chest, look at him, smile and nod, and then gather my things. I will clean myself up, drink my tea, and the world will be right again. All because a little brown man gave me a piece of Swiss corn syrup.

It isn’t the medicine that heals, it is the kindness.