Thursday, January 05, 2006

The One Who Inspires

When I lived in California a woman worked for me. One of her faith-based intiatives was that she visited prisons to speak with convicts every week. She told me that she ministered to them. I often would listen to her talk about it, thinking that she was so na├»ve. I wondered whether in truth the prisoners weren’t ministering to her instead.

This new year has brought with it a feeling of life and hope for the future. I’ve laid down the burdens of the past and walk forward letting go of what I once carried on my shoulders. I walk taller and with purpose, with more joie de vivre. I no longer cling to the rocks alongside the river, but let the water carry me. I take pride in this new way of being. I didn’t know that I did, but indeed I do. I walked into my proud feelings yesterday afternoon.

By synchronicity, a man I’d met before in passing found me again. He told me of his troubles, which sounded so much like those I’d faced and still face each day. I spoke to him of hope and how I had surrendered, let go of the shore, and embraced not knowing. He listened. He answered. We talked a while, and he went home. I felt helpless that I could not do more—that his real problems could not be fixed by my well-meaning words. Before he left I promised to look in on him last night.

I thought of this person, friend, throughout my day, of his talent and his art. I dwelled on his honesty and I breathed in his gentle calm. He has the frail strength that we call humanity and still sees so clearly what his situation means. His aura has such sadness and such acceptance. His shy farewell was beautiful. It stayed right there with me.

I wanted to take from him this burden. I wanted to give to him my hope. But for all the fluency I own, my words seemed like so many meager thoughts.

I was left standing face to face with my limits. I was not enough. I looked inside myself for more. Surely I had the answer somewhere. But when I searched deeper, I didn't find an answer for the man. I saw my humility staring back at me.

I asked Dawn to pray for him. She has a special relationship with God.

When I went to visit him last night, I read something he wrote about his abject poverty. It was compelling in it’s honesty. He spoke about how he feared the shame and cherished the freedom that it brings. He wrote of hope for humanity that seems to be growing deeper in understanding. I wanted to tell him that I heard what he was saying and that I understood. Again I searched for words and found that mine were all too small, too useless in comparison. He spoke of eating from public gardens and showed me pictures of luscious foods, bing cherries so blood red.

I tried to tell him what had worked for me, but my humility looked up at me. Who did I think I was to teach this person about anything? Sometimes God gives me the right words to say, “I think there is much I can learn from you.”

I came home to my blog and looked for something that I might send as comfort to him. That’s when I realized how good my life has really been, how bad my last year really wasn’t. I’ve never eaten from a public garden or worried whether I would eat again. I’ve never been able to, as he so eloquently said, “count out exactly how to spend all of this nothing.”

I asked a friend who had survived the cold war to look in on him too.

Today this man stopped by to see me. He spoke again of his hope for humanity, how all of us holding hands together is what the world needs. He said that talking to me is inspiring. He is the inspiring one. I am the one who should be sitting at his knee.

I will listen to his story. It will be an honor.

And we will hold hands together while he tells it.

—me strauss Letting me be

18 comments:

mergrl said...

what a heartfelt, beautifully touching post, thank you
(hugs)

ME Strauss said...

Hi Trace,
He's real.
Liz

~Sorrow~ said...

Yeah that was pretty touching, it's really nice that you're there for him in his time of need. Despite what you think, the words you have given him, and the fact alone that you listen to him has undoubtly helped him greatly. We need more people like you in this world.

ME Strauss said...

Hello, Sorrow,
It seems strange to say I do not think I've seen you here before, because sorrow has been part of my life. I've learned to make it my friend. Thank you for your words of encouragment and support. I know I can offer only what I have. I know he sees it as I mean it to be.
Liz

Kelley Bell said...

Beautiful Liz.

You have once again evoked many memories for me. The deep dark hidden, forgotton shadows of long ago.

Bing Cherries and Freedom. Ha! You tempt me to write: to remember, and reveal.

Maybe.

But not today.

ME Strauss said...

Ah, Kelley Bell,
You cannot be so wise without having earned it. I know that already. How you earned it, is a story that will tell itself in time. I am patient.
Liz

Orikinla Osinachi. said...

In humility
I have found the heart and soul of humanity.

The man reminded me of my person years ago.

But what can you and your family and friends do for this artist?
Remember that Van Gogh and so many other artists died of abject poverty. Because, they were misunderstood and had no managers.

In my country Nigeria, I help my fellow artists to overcome their disabilities as much as God gives me the grace.

Do your best for him before it too late.

May God grant us the grace to be our brother's keeper.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for sharing. Sometimes I forget just how 'good' I do have it.

I'll think of this post on the days I complain and remeber I have a job, food and wonderful family.

Melly said...

Absolutely!
Sometimes we have to remember to listen and look around and see the big picture, which is much bigger than us. We need to remember that we are part of the big picture, not set apart from it.

ME Strauss said...

Hello orininia,
Thank you for your wods of wisdom. I ean offer litle but my friendship. Still I can do that with all of my heart.
Liz

ME Strauss said...

Hi Jennifer,
Yes that was something of the response that I had. I was remind of the good things in my life.
Liz

ME Strauss said...

Hi Melly,
You say it so well, we are a part of the big picture, not set apart from it.

That's is what he was trying to say as well. I think you would like him too.

Mark Daniels said...

Listening can be the most profound ministry of all. Good post, Liz!

Blessings in Christ,
Mark Daniels

ME Strauss said...

Thank you, Mark,
I will listen and be inspired I'm sure.
Liz

dog1net said...

Liz,
"He spoke again of his hope for humanity, how all of us holding hands together is what the world needs. . ."
Such a simple truth that if only realized would put an end to much suffering. This was the perfect read after coming home from a particularly stressful day at work.

ME Strauss said...

Scot,
How it fills me up to hear you say such a simple thing. Thank you so much.
Liz

Anonymous said...

Hi, its me Yos, the artist. You are welcome to read my post on poverty:
http://www.josephtany.com/wordpress/
scroll down that page to find it.

Thanks you Liz for inviting me over here;)

ME Strauss said...

Yos,
I'm glad you came by to read what I wrote. I'm honored to have you as my guest here.
Liz