Holy, If Only for a Moment

Equals

Holy, If Only for a Moment

Our food pantries use a term, “Ladders of Peace”.  Some folks struggle with what it means. Like anything that is truly human and truly real, it resists simple definitions. It is who we are in our pantry communities. It is best understood in experiencing it.  Like so many things that are bigger than we are, we are sometimes unable to talk about the ways that they have touched us and changed us, because we just don’t have the words to fully convey the experience.  All I can say is that you understand it when you see it come to life…when you see it in the flesh.

After we close our pantries, we gather our volunteers for a time of reflection.  You have to understand that for us, these aren’t merely food pantries that distribute food.  These, to us, are churches of Christ. They are sacred places where the “least of these” can be found.  And where the least of these can be found, so can the Lord. They are bushes where the birds of the air come to find shelter.  In our reflection time, we ask people to tell us about their experience, how it changed them or made them think differently about something.  Sometimes, the answers are simple: “I had a good time.”  But sometimes the answers are profound.

He is from Myanmar, though I think he might say that he is from Burma.  He is from a persecuted people group there, the Chin.  He has spent a good part of his life as an IDP, and then as a refugee in a camp outside his country.  He immigrated to the U.S. fairly recently.  If I had to guess, I would guess that he is in his early twenties.  His English is broken, but we can communicate. He brings a group of about twenty other Chin young adults and teenagers once a month to serve with us. He has a light in him that is infectious.  He has a joy that is overflowing out of him.  He has every right to be an angry and bitter young man, and he is not.  I don’t know why.  What I do know is that I count him among my friends, and I am grateful.

As he began to speak that day (it was his turn), I struggled at first to understand what he was saying.  I think he was a little nervous.  But after the first few sentences, I understood what he was saying.  He said that since coming to the U.S., he has been treated badly because he looks different, and because his English isn’t good.  He said that people look down on him, like he is less than them.  He told us about the struggles that he’s had in finding a job because of prejudice.  The “American Dream” has been elusive for him.  He told us these things while all the while smiling.  It struck me that his smile was transcendent, from a place not of this world. And then he said something that was both simple and profound.  It pierced me.  He said, “In my life, everywhere I go here I am looked down on.  But not here.  Here is different.  Here, I am an equal.” He smiled.  He sat down.  Tears began to well up in my eyes. The room was silent…holy, if only for a moment.  The Kingdom of God had drawn very near to us, and we had the incredible opportunity to participate with him in it.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: