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