For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
~ John 3:16
Yesterday morning I sat with a man who immigrated with his family to start a new life in America. The journey was not easy, and the hurdles in which they faced were like mountains many of us have never seen, but possessing a dream that so many do as they make their way, provided strength and hope along the way.
The one bedroom apartment, sectioned off to help provide privacy for two families, shared a common kitchen. Mangos and other fruits were piled neatly on a plate. The smell of fresh tortillas that had been made for children as they left for school, still lingered in the small space. There were no pictures on the wall, except for a tiny cross that seemed so small against the starkness of white walls.
Having spent his whole life working as a laborer, laying tiles, trimming trees, and painting homes, the man looked twenty years older than the forty-something age that he actually is. His voice was soft, unlike the hands that were both callous and mended from times when they may have been broken, but still worked.
I listened as he shared of his small "Iglesia" (church), and how he shared of the same "Jesus," that we share in common.
The man is dying.
There were no tears as we talked of the life that he has lived, the struggles he has encountered, or the fact that he will not see his children grow into adults. Instead, we realized the strength of the journey, perseverance through adversity, and the hope that he still holds.
He spoke of Jesus, and how at an early age his mother took him to church where he understood that God "sent His son," especially for those who were marginalized, poor, and struggled.
He reflected how his illness would serve as the "greatest lesson of faith," that he could teach his children, and that somehow his dying would instill more than just a father's passing.
I don't know what it is about people like this that when I meet them, I am once again reminded that our spiritual journey is our commonality. It is where we begin to recognize and see the Creator among us, with us, and in us. That the incarnate Jesus, dwells and exists within us. That what we seek is beyond our mortality, and that what we bear is insignificant to what we eventually will experience when we breathe our last breath.
As my visit with the man ended, I offered a prayer for him and his family. The translator reflected my words into words that were known to him, but even without this, our spirits understood the intentions of our heart, and the significant of the common Jesus that we both know. He thanked me for visiting, and in his final words to me as I left he offered a simple, "God bless you."
I walked the three blocks back to my car, passing other apartments where multiple families lived. Many with their doors open, allowing for music to reach across a playground where children laughed and played, young mothers folded clothes, and a grandmother sat and cleaned vegetables that would soon be on a market stand on the street corner.
I realized the smile under my face mask as I removed the face shield that I had also been wearing, now dripping from moisture from my breath. I started the motor of my car. I felt the rush of the AC as I removed my PPE, and realized the smell of alcohol as the cold gel covered my hands. I sat, thinking about the visit, wondering about their future, and realized that this man is my brother.
Blessed are those....
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2020
Rev. G. Todd Williams is the author of the book, "Remember Me When..." and is a former hospice chaplain and pastor.