Stuck

Stuck

Jeremiah 38: 1-6; 8-10

6: There was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud………….

   11 So Ebed-melech took the men with him and went to the house of the king, to a wardrobe in the storehouse, and took from there old rags and worn-out clothes, which he let down to Jeremiah in the cistern by ropes. 12 Then Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah, “Put the rags and clothes between your armpits and the ropes.” Jeremiah did so. 13 Then they drew Jeremiah up with ropes and lifted him out of the cistern. And Jeremiah remained in the court of the guard.

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The image of Jeremiah sinking into the mud has got to be one of the most pathetic in all Scripture. The great prophet, the great counselor is utterly dejected, thrown into a hole and left for dead, slowly sinking into the mud.

I know that feeling for  much of time I feel stuck, and become sad and depressed. Criticized, more homeless on the streets, people never positive, prayer seems empty, and the hateful remarks on social media. And I am told I do not do enough. One day follows another bringing nothing new. And I can not seem to pull myself out of the slump. And then comes along Ebed-melech to save me from the cistern.

    Eled-melech stops by the palace linen  closet and gathers some old rags. He sends them down to Jeremiah instructing him to to put the rags between his arm pits and the ropes, in order to save some pain as he is hauled up. It is a small gesture, an act of kindness and care.

Small gestures–a friend telling me they love me, seeing someone smile as I feed them, all are gestures  acts of love that remind me it is in simply doing the work of of presence, that is important, not the results, just being faithful.

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And the words of Father Henri Nouwen speak truth in these moments:

Our Gifts Are Not The Same As Our Talents

More important than our talents are our gifts. We may have only a few talents, but we have many gifts. Our gifts are the many ways in which we express our humanity. They are part of who we are: friendship, kindness, patience, joy, peace, forgiveness, gentleness, love, hope, trust, and many others. These are the true gifts we have to offer to each other.

Somehow I have known this for a long time, especially through my personal experience of the enormous healing power of these gifts. But since my coming to live in a community with mentally handicapped people, I have rediscovered this simple truth. Few, if any, of those people have talents they can boast of. Few are able to make contributions to our society that allow them to earn money, compete on the open market, or win awards. But how splendid are their gifts!

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We  may not have many talents if any, I know I do not, but what I have is the gift of love, the gift of listening, the gift of being present.

Recognizing these gestures in our own lives may be just enough to lift us out of the mud. We are as St. Paul tells us surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, and  looking  up we see those who have come to help, bringing rags with the rope.  A simple gesture of love! Deo Gratias! Thanks be to God!

Fr. River Damien Sims, sfw, D.Min., D.S.T.

P.O. Box 642656

San Francisco, CA 94164

http://www.temenos.org

415-305-2124

 

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