Be Yourself

Be Yourself

Mark 3:1-6

In our Scripture this morning Jesus is judged harshly for healing a person, in much the same way we use our red tape and regulations to judge others who are  healers.

I am having surgery today, taken off all medication last night, and have have been crying in pain the last few hours. My doctors are concerned because I have been weakened by an illness prior to this injury and their are several possibilities with this injury. It is strange I am not afraid, not because of a “belief” in a Supreme Being, but because I see the face of Jesus in the guys who walk with me. They have been willing to get their hands dirty in my pain and fear. And they have given me the strength to survive, and to walk with people in their fears, to get my hands dirty, and to be myself.

Henri Nouwen once wrote:

“Often we want to be somewhere other than where we are, or even to be someone other than who we are. We tend to compare ourselves constantly with others and wonder why we are not as rich, as intelligent, as simple, as generous, or as saintly as they are. Such comparisons make us feel guilty, ashamed, or jealous. It is very important to realize that our vocation is hidden in where we are and who we are. We are unique human beings, each with a call to realize in life what nobody else can, and to realize it in the concrete context of the here and now.
We will never find our vocations by trying to figure out whether we are better or worse than others. We are good enough to do what we are called to do. Be yourself!”
I struggle with that, and in these last months the guys walking with me have taught me one thing: to be myself, and I am very good at what I do when I am myself. In fact I am damn good at what I do when I am myself.
Yesterday my friend Eric celebrated the Eucharist and anointed me, and as he repeated the words of the Eucharist I realized it is really the first time I have  not heard those words in a long time–because I am always repeating those words. I never hear them, and as the beauty of the the Book of Common Prayer touched my heart,  I saw Christ saying: “I have always been with you.”
He has been with me in my two seventeen and eighteen year old friends who showed up yesterday to see me. You would think they are just typical Marin athletes, but each has been Christ to me in these weeks. One met me in a park one day to simply hang out, and I broke down, afraid of the fever and depression I was having, and he put his arms around me and held me, and comforted me, and checked on  me throughout the day, with no judgment. K said, “You are my friend, you never judge me, you never tell on me, we are a lot alike; the other snap chatted me wanting to be friends because, “You are friends with all my friends, and you seem cool.” We have talked for hours on snap chat and I realized I shared all of my stuff as well, and he his,and there was no judgment, just friendship. These two have been the face of Christ. They have taught me to be myself. K’s photo is on my desk posing with two transgender women, and it is humorous because I was pushing his boundaries and he responded with just being him self.
There is E, 17,  who has snap chatted me in the middle of many  nights in my fear when I have high fever, when I was facing surgery three weeks ago, last night when I was over come with fear of no friends and of this surgery today. On the surface he is a crazy seventeen year old, but to me he is my friend, and the face of Christ, and he has taught me to be myself.
There is M and J, as close to me as my  brother was, homies, closer to me than anyone has ever been, have fought with me, and loved me despite myself, both 18; Marilyn  who is nearly 80 and knows me like the back of her hand. They all have taught me to be myself and in them to see the face of Christ.
All of these guys have offered me hope.  You see hope comes through getting one’s hands dirty, through facing people without judgment and bureaucratic crap as in our Scripture. It comes from meeting people where they are, and looking into their eyes and seeing their humanity.  We do not have to have education or skills to love people, only my friend Marilyn has those skills, and she has thrown them out the window and simply loved. We  have to open our  hearts–and let people in. We have to live in Hope as described by Henri Nouwen:
“Optimism and hope are radically different attitudes. Optimism is the expectation that things-the weather, human relationships, the economy, the political situation, and so on-will get better. Hope is the trust that God will fulfill God’s promises to us in a way that leads us to true freedom. The optimist speaks about concrete changes in the future. The person of hope lives in the moment with the knowledge and trust that all of life is in good hands.

All the great spiritual leaders in history were people of hope. Abraham, Moses, Ruth, Mary, Jesus, Rumi, Gandhi, and Dorothy Day all lived with a promise in their hearts that guided them toward the future without the need to know exactly what it would look like. Let’s live with hope.”
Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!
Fr. River Damien Sims, D.Min.
Temenos Catholic Worker

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