Last night when Amy taught us the meaning of the sermon on the mount…it was theory. Today it was practical when I went empty handed to the Laundromat. I had my backpack you see, prepared for the journey to sugar creek as well as for a quick trip to Spin City. Then a guest arrived at Voices. How could I leave without offering my hospitality?
An hour later we walked together out the door. He tried to reason with me that I had no time to make it to the Worker and also wash my clothes. But he presumed two things: first, that I was going to walk from Argyle to Devon and second, that the clothers would never finish in time. That is, I was expected in an hour at the Worker for a ride to Sugar Creek. How could it be done?
I laughed and admitted what a fool I am. He was right. Then I told him a story of a demonstration by favorite priest in high school.
He said to always put God first, the rest will take care of itself. He just so happened to have a giant jar in which he placed a magnificent rock the size of a football. Here’s God, he said, and then, taking out a bag of golf balls, he said, here’s the loved ones in your life. Next he poured in pebbles, showing us the good work of acts and finally the bucket of sand—straight from the beach—representing the thoughts of kindness (or shall we say nonviolence?). In the jar it all fit.
He took out a second jar and this time, put the thoughts first, then the acts, then the loved ones, and yet not all of them fit, golf balls were stuffing the top of the jar, a few bouncing out onto the wooden floor with hollow echo sounds. Where was the room for God?
I did not plan to test God with this experiment. The money lay at home where I left it (accidents happen). When checking my pockets for the change, I held out my debit card scanning spin city for an ATM, disappointed.
You might be thinking, how does idiocy have to do with last night’s Kairos reflection on the Sermon on the Mount?
The quest to put into practice the teaching of Jesus usually remains just that, a romantic exploration. To often, the framework of interpretation used in the Gospel thumping theologic community prefers the world of ideas to the world of the curb, street side. My friends, you came to my aide, lifted my soul from self-criticism. In memory of you I broke myself open in the assembly of Spin Cycle. “What language,” you say.
Yet how else can a poet describe his preaching when the begging I undertook showed me the Kingdom of God? Consider this.
First I went to the people, “Can you help me wash my clothes? Do you have any change?” Heads shook, lips tightened. I went to the curb outside after a few minutes of this. I had hope still because the Latina named Reina had introduced me to a staff member whose heart seemed to melt that she could not assist me. The Filipina (with posture of management) stepped in with English interrupting us “Can I help—what do you want?”
My bajita proponent said “He doesn’t have money.”
Blink, went the Filipina, “Then how are you going to wash your clothes?”
Out on the curb passer-byers made their excuses. Then one drove up and gave me a dollar! I rejoiced and made change in the machine, showing the Filipina my trophy. “The smallest load is $2.00” she said.