Sunday, September 29, 2013

God in Drag?


Treat everyone you meet like God in drag. ~Ram Dass

I laughed out loud when I saw this quotation yesterday. And it reminded me of an incident that happened to me several years ago.

I was walking my dog in our neighborhood. As I strolled by one house, a woman working in her yard stopped me to admire Sadie. As she was bent over rubbing Sadie’s ears and talking doggie talk to her, a homeless man walked by pushing his rickety grocery cart piled full of who knows what. The woman jerked up suddenly and bolted for her door, calling back over her shoulder to me, “That man might be Jesus! I have to go fix him a sandwich!”

I was dumbfounded. I waited a moment for the candid camera folks to leap out of the bushes. Then I moved off in the opposite direction, marveling at the bizarre kookiness of people. But before I turned the corner, I paused and looked back at the hunched shoulders of the man shuffling off down the street, oblivious to the commotion his passing had provoked.

I guess the joke was on me after all, because I have never looked at people the same way since. Or maybe I should say I have never overlooked people the same way since. Everybody became real to me that day, imbued with divine identity. I notice people now – in the grocery store, in other cars, on the street, in the news. They all have lives. Just like me.  They want the same things I want – to be happy and free from suffering.  I’m quicker to smile, to nod a greeting, to send a silent blessing.

Even people who irritate me. Maybe especially people who irritate me. It’s a challenge to see the divinity in the person who cuts me off in traffic, who is rude on the phone. Sometimes I need a little help, so I tell myself, There goes a child of God, cleverly disguised as a jerk [or whatever term seems appropriate]. Irritation melts into, if not compassion, at least amusement.

My Sadie is gone now, and I miss her. But I still walk in the neighborhood, and when I pass that woman’s house, I think about our earlier encounter. Maybe that woman was Jesus. Maybe we all are.

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. ~Hebrews 13:2

related posts: A Few Leaves; The Kindness Game

41 comments:

  1. I am having a major issue with a business partner. Even so, I feel compassionate toward her. She is doing the best she knows.

    Compassion is much easier than resentment.

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    1. Linda, How wonderful that you can hold onto compassion when I know the situation must be frustrating and hurtful. Thanks for your comment.

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  2. This is such a lovely post. I found the story so sweet. I rather liked the comment that she was going to go make him a sandwich. Growing up I have always loved to watch people and wonder what they are really like. During the years that I worked as a hospice home health nurse I learned to read people. I can usually pick out those who are in pain, lonely, troubled and etc.
    This has helped me in so many ways.. You are right we do have so much in common with one another and we should try a little harder to lift those around us in someway.
    Blessings!

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    1. LeAnn, I liked that, too. She was so spontaneously thoughtful and generous. I learned a lot from the brief encounter.

      What a blessing you must have been to many people. When my mom was dying, the hospice folks were amazing. And yes, I bet you did learn a lot. There is a book by two hospice nurses -- Final Gifts -- that I have found so fascinating. You might like it. Thanks for your comment.

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  3. Thank you so much Galen for the reminder. Yes !! Trying to find the good in all people and being compassionate towards all no matter who they are.

    I think it's a good reminder to love our neighbor because the neighbor is a divine being who is part of the same divine spirit as us. We tend to see ourselves (our egos) as different and apart (maybe more so in America but all over the world) but if we can realize we are all made of the same cloth, there will be more love, compassion and kindness in the world.

    We cannot change other people or expect others to treat us more neighborly or kindly or divinely but we can learn from them, as you mention, and we can do our part and love more:) A wonderful reminder for the upcoming week - to treat everyone more Godly - to treat everyone like they are important. Maybe like everyone is Jesus disguised:)

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    1. Vishnu, Thanks for your expansion of the discussion. Like Jesus disguised. Exactly. I think you are right that people in other cultures might find this easier. That is an interesting point. Thanks for commenting.

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  4. A beautiful reminder to look for Jesus in every person that we meet. I sure did see Him in you through this post, Galen. God bless! ♡ :-)

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    1. Irene, Thank you, and God bless you, too.

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  5. This is beautiful, thank you! My world has never been the same since the day not too long ago that I started actually looking at all the people I encounter everywhere I go.

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    1. Kathi, Amazing, isn't it, when we look at people and see them as real! Thanks for your comment.

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  6. A beautiful reminder to really SEE people and show compassion in every day actions.

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  7. What a beautifully written post my friend - I often think this myself as I befriend homeless and less fortunate people in my life. If so, I am blessed for I have offered blessings to many and I say thank you JESUS!

    In gratitude,
    Nancy

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    1. Nancy, So true that our caring for other people blesses us as well. Thanks for commenting.

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  8. Galen, this is such a wonderful story! Since naming this year "Love," I, too, have been looking at others in a God-centered way. I see them as His children. When we do that, it becomes so much easier to have compassion, caring, and forgiveness.
    Blessings!

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    1. Martha, I like the image of "naming" a year. I have a word for the year, and that is slightly different. Naming carries a lot of power. Thanks for your comment.

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  9. This is an amazing practice! I'm happy for the reminder as I find it takes a lot of diligence to remember to see the divine in people, but it's truly the truth of who they are.

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    1. Sandra, Yes, I have to catch myself every time I'm about to dismiss someone or react to someone in a negative way. Thanks for your comment.

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  10. This post touched my heart, Galen. I think so many times I get hung up on stereotypes. I really pray to be more like that woman. See the best, believe the best. God does know our intentions and surely He knows when we deliberately walk on the "other"side of the sidewalk or with our head down to avoid. Great post and great thoughts.

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    1. Kathy, Thanks for your kind words. We all, I think, are lured by stereotypes. Our brains like labels for things. Even when, or perhaps especially when, I draw back from someone, I try to send that person a blessing and bring compassion to myself as well. Thanks for your comment.

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  11. I loved this post Galen. It really made me think about my own stereotypes and how I pray to be more like this woman. Believe the best, See the best. I am sure God knows our true intentions when he sees us cross to the other side or keep our head down to avoid. Great Post and Great Thoughts!

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  12. Such a beautiful post and so important to think about and try to live by. We should live as though every stranger, friend or family member were Him...because in a way they really are. Blessings and thank you for this post. Pam xx

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    1. Pam, Yes, at our deepest level, we are all joined in sacred unity. So easy to forget! Thanks for commenting.

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  13. Your post made me think of the Bible story of Lazarus and how he was ignored by the rich man. Your neighbor who decided to give a sandwich is a great example of giving. None of us know who is coming to us in the guise of a homeless person.

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    1. Jeanette, That story is a great example of what happens when we fail to recognize each other, no matter who we are, as children of God (or the universe or whatever term you like). Thanks for your comment.

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  14. Hi Galen! This put a song in my head, "What if God was one of us?" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4CRkpBGQzU
    I have been thinking about assumptions lately - assumptions others make of us, but this is a different way to study this - what assumptions we make of others.
    "What if God was one of us..."
    Lori

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    1. Lori, This does fit in with your recent post about assumptions, doesn't it? Thanks for sharing the song. And for your comment.

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  15. Thank you, Galen. You shared a very beautiful message. What a lovely neighbor you have!!

    Your post reminds me of an advice given by a well-respected Buddhist monk: to treat everyone - including insects such as mosquitoes - as a wise teacher.

    Namaste!

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    1. Evelyn, I like that advice. I am still trying to learn the lesson from the rats that set up housekeeping in my attic. Hmm. Thanks for your comment.

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  16. That verse always makes me pause, Galen but I don't much give heed to it. I always tend to rationalise and write them away. Thanks for this remainder. It does mean a lot. Maybe Jesus is talking through you to us, today.

    Joy always,
    Susan

    P. S. I must admit that the drag in the title brought drag queens to my mind!

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    1. Susan, It does give you pause, doesn't it? And yes, I laughed at the quote because of the image of God in drag-- very different from angels in disguise!

      Speaking of drag queens, it's interesting that in some cultures, female impersonators are highly esteemed. Something else to think about.

      Thanks for commenting.

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  17. Galen,
    I love this story! It reminds me to think, "Who are you to judge?"

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    1. Angela, Indeed! Thanks for commenting.

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  18. Great story Galen, I remember listening to Alan Watts tell a story of meeting a beggar on the streets in India and he looked at him and said come off it God. Since then I've always looked at people and thought of them as being God expressing as them so it's cool to hear of someone acting on that thought.

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    1. Elle, That's a good story about Alan Watts. He saw right through to the beggar's true identity. Thanks for commenting.

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  19. Hi Galen

    Ah, all those annoying people... After spending much time walking in our area and coming across homeless people I wonder about them. Compassion holds a whole new meaning when we realize it could be us if it weren't for...

    When people won't move over on the sidewalk or drivers who block the sidewalk when you are trying to walk, I have to stop myself from getting mad. My thought is, if that makes you feel important in your own small world I can except that. If that is the only power you have then who am I to take it away from you. I have to smile, as getting mad only makes me feel worse and they are not worth the frustration. I do admit when the walk sign is on and someone whips their car around so I have to stop, I do throw my arms and say "thanks a lot"! Don't appreciate getting almost run over. But it is teaching me tolerance.

    Mary

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    1. Mary, You have furnished many examples of times when it is easy to dismiss someone or get irritated with someone. All great opportunities to practice compassion and tolerance, as you said. Thank you for adding to the discussion with your comment.

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  20. Loved this story the last time you told it. It's well worth retelling!

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    1. Thanks, Mikey. When I saw the God-in-drag quote, I knew it was time to tell the story again. Thanks for commenting.

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  21. I am definitely not Jesus. However, I can't think of anything better than the Golden Rule. What a great way to go through life!

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    1. JJ, I don't know. Is it possible that at some level we all share a sacred unity with Jesus and with each other? It's all just words, of course. As the Tao Te Ching says, "The way that can be told is not the eternal Way." Words fall short, but the experience of the universal in ourselves and in others opens up, well, everything. Always glad to see a comment from you.

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