The “Wait” demon sits on my shoulder, whispering sweet nothings in my ear. It says of whatever bright idea or action I am considering, “Wait, wait until tomorrow – you will have more time, energy, inspiration tomorrow.”
Deadlines have taught me that inspiration really works in the midst of whatever task we are actively performing. Quietly, we are guided along our way by all that we have learned and observed, even when understanding suddenly breaks through like a bolt of lightening – the “aha” of discovery does not happen in a vacuum.
Inspiration is the breath of the Divine in humanity making itself known to us in an unusual way that may or may not ever be recognized during our lives. For all our many likenesses to life in its many forms, none other exhibits this human characteristic.
Many a genius lives a long life without ever realizing that the work of discovery that has consumed his or her heart and mind will someday take its place in the historical progression of humanity, becoming commonplace foundation for even greater discovery of how the universe serves and maintains life for inhabitants of a tiny planet called Earth.
Several days ago I saw a story about a man diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson's disease. He decides to walk (and that is a challenge if you know much about the disease) across the country to raise funds for more medical research to find cause and cure.
He tells of stopping to visit with a poor or homeless man by the side of road shelling pecans. Sitting down beside the pecan-sheller, the walker answers questions about his mission with no thought of receiving a contribution.
As he gets up to continue his walk, the other man takes out a wallet and empties all it holds, $4, to give to the cause, apologizing that he does not have more to contribute.
On the day I saw that brief news clip and picture of the walker standing beside a huge pile of shoes he wore out on his journey, I was studying a Sunday school lesson from the book of Luke, a parable told by Jesus about a sick beggar named Lazarus. It spotlights the callous attitude of a wealthy man who shows no compassion.
Some misinterpret the story to say mere possession of wealth is wicked, but that is not the focus of this story, although it does illustrate how easily we can become so insulated in our comfort that we ignore the plight of others unable to help themselves.
Lazarus dies and ends up comforted in the arms of Abraham, a Jewish concept of heaven. The wealthy man dies the same day and finds himself in a place of extreme torment, but able to see Lazarus from afar.
Despite his situation, the wealthy man asks that Lazarus be sent to bring him a drink, revealing his view that Lazarus is not an equal, but created only to serve the needs of his “superiors.” That request denied, the man has one more request – that God send someone from Heaven to warn his five brothers.
That too, is denied, heaven's speaker telling the man that since his brothers would not observe the Law or listen to the Prophets, they also would not believe someone sent directly from Heaven to get their attention.
This parable provides to his followers an opening into what looms ahead for Jesus – judgment and crucifixion of the Messiah who would be rejected by many of those in power. The common people are the beggars in this story, the ones who know they need God's help. In that sense, it is a powerful portrait of the material chosen over the spiritual.
In both this parable and the story of the pecan-sheller, I also recall another teaching illustration of how we fail to comprehend and thus misjudge the worth of people in God's sight, all people.
In what we would call “a teachable” moment, Jesus reveals our lack of comprehension in the story known as “The Widow's Mite.”
Again, people are accurately judged in God's eyes by their intent, not by the size of their bank account or position as we tend to judge. The comparison between what the widow put into the Temple offering, the smallest coin available, was a bigger offering than was given that day by the wealthiest, who dropped multiple coins into the collection, no doubt his 10 percent according to the letter of the Law.
How could her mite be more?
“She gave all she had,” Jesus notes.
How many of us give abundantly, not out of requirement but out of love?
Rich or poor, it is what we do with what we have that reveals the state of the heart – my thought to ponder throughout this season of Lenten reflection.
BETH PRATT retired as religion editor from the Avalanche-Journal after 25 years. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.