Young black man, boxers visible, white tank top, cap sideways holding the hand of a grubby toddler in the overgrown yard of a shabby duplex.
Old woman, creased skin and swollen fingers trying to write a check that the cashier will only hand back to her.
Landscapers resting in the shade.
Pharmacy clerk with disheveled hair and hipster glasses.
These are just a few of the people I can recall in the last few weeks who have given me what I can only describe as the “Christmas Feeling”. It’s something of hope, mixed with joy and peace. A sensation of warmth and love that brings a quiet smile to my face and an almost involuntary sign of the cross.
Sometimes I get the feeling passing an unkempt, single wide trailer with a sunken faced Jack O’ Lantern on the porch. A child playing with a dog. Occasionally when a stranger sneezes or I picture the convenience store clerk sleeping. It’s a feeling of being connected to these humans even though we’re very different.
I’m no saint however and this feeling is hard to hold onto once people open their mouths. There’s been a man who I’ve watched walk a nearby stretch of road in the same dingy jacket for a few weeks. Day or night there he is, wandering, sitting, standing. I picked up a hat and gloves at Wal Mart because it’s cold and he had neither. The next time I saw him I stopped, told him I didn’t know his story but it was cold and offered him the hat and gloves. He proceeded to tell me about his estranged wife and the medical experiments she was allowing to be conducted on his children. He didn’t take the hat and I began to feel sorry I stopped. But I guess that’s the point. When The Lord looks down on us all snug in our beds, or singing His praises in church on Sundays it’s easy to love us. Yet even when we’re complaining, revolting against Him, and hurting one another He still does. Though we’re weakened by our sinful nature we’re made in His image and should strive to do the same.
Last night violence erupted over the decision in Ferguson. While people were outraged over the senseless anarchy and posted their feelings to social media they started to become just as senseless and barbaric. An image was shared of Michael Browns dead body lying on the street with the words “I fought the law and the law won”. While the poster would say it’s the truth, it’s a deterrent to crime and a warning to would be thugs; it’s nothing short of horrific. I got the complete opposite of my “Christmas Feeling”. I was filled with disgust and despair, not only for that body and his family but for the mindset of people to think they have a right to share another human being in that fashion. What I saw when I looked at that photo was not a hardened criminal who got what he deserved I saw a young man who was loved by a mother and a father, who may have talked in his sleep and at one time was a giggly baby with strained peas on his nose. What I saw were callous, mocking words posted by another human so broken to and detached to think that’s okay.
We’re all broken. Whether you’re throwing a flaming wad of rags through a storefront or flaming words of hate onto the internet I ask that you stop today and look at the bodies around you. Hard though it is forget that they make lousy decisions, are bigoted, entitled or whatever fault it is that rubs you the wrong way. Look at their hands that may be calloused from a hard days work, the coat they wear to keep them warm,imagine them young in their mothers lap, picture them murmuring softly in their sleep.Think of them as humans and forget they’re people.