Years ago, while studying abroad in London, I developed what I thought was a deep callous on the bottom of my foot. I treated it with ointment and patches, but it only grew larger. My foot ached when I walked.
One day, my English mum saw me wince in pain. Before I knew it, she whisked me off to a “doctor’s surgery,” as she called it. A pleasant woman like a physician’s assistant explained that I had a verruca (planters wart), likely contracted as a virus from the ballet studio I frequented. When she pressed on my foot, I started to cry. I wondered how something so small could hurt so much.
As if reading my mind, she handed me a tissue and said, “Nasty things, these. Hurt like the dickens.”
Then she proceeded to treat the wart quickly and efficiently. When she asked whether I had any questions, I expressed concern about how my insurance would cover the cost. She reassured me that I only owed a minimal amount because I was a student residing with a British citizen.
I reflect on that experience now, contrasting it with what I currently witness in our global culture, kinds of nationalism which fears refugees and rising inflation, as much as diminishing resources, escalating insurance costs, and job loss. I notice how many of us in “helping professions,” clergy, education, finance, law, medicine, can be daunted by all the work to be done.
The pressure sometimes to patch people up and send them on their way is overwhelming. Yet, to truly invest a few sacred minutes being present with another person is part of our spiritual practice, the way we live our faith. To share even a moment of the journey with a stranger is to acknowledge another child of God in our midst, no matter who they are, what they believe, where they’ve been or who they love.
Many spiritual practices require not only that we go forth and make disciples, sharing the truths of our own learning with those open to receive it, but that we also care, however briefly, for the strangers among us. Scriptural law, one Jesus likely knew intimately, reminds us that we each are God’s divine creations and we’re to treat one another as such.
The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:34)
In their vulnerability, strangers offer us one more opportunity to remember the depths of our innate compassion. To remember our call to express the presence of God we are, no matter what our work. In the process, even when the work isn’t necessarily easier, the journey is richer.
© 2017 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks. All rights reserved.