|Look Mom, I’m standing in the Jordan River
“Everywhere we’ve gone has been historically fascinating, but not particularly spiritually significant for me. At all these traditional holy sites, the group seems to be having these emotionally-charged, spiritually cathartic moments…or maybe everybody’s pretending…I don’t know…I just know I’m not.”
*fist pump* THAT’S OUR GIRL!
Where she did find spiritual and even a physical connection to Jesus via her 5 senses was away from the crowds and the tradition in a quiet and pristine spot on the banks of the Sea of Galilee in Capernaum.
In all likelihood, Kathryn was indeed seeing what Jesus saw as she participated in his regular practice of retreating in silence and solitude in an area where he was known to have spent a lot of time building significant relationships.
I think the most significant question we could possibly ask ourselves in terms of what it means to be like Christ is –
What would Jesus see?…or more accurately, but doing away with the WWJ (and can we agree that just needs to die anyway?) – HOW would Jesus see the world, my world, my experiences, my life right now?
What would his take be on the relationships in my family? What would his attitude be towards the myriad of interconnected and clashing cultures and their politics today? What would his attitude be toward my neighbor? What would his attitude be toward my enemy? Who would he see as “the least of these” today? What would Jesus think about the booming tourism business bearing his name? What would Jesus think about the church and modern religious traditions also bearing his name? How would Jesus see the present Israeli/Palestinian conflict?
BURSTING THE BUBBLE
Kathryn was fully aware she’d been born and raised within an American Christianity bubble, and she knew it was going to burst in cataclysmic fashion on this trip. I not only knew it would happen, but upon looking at the trip itinerary, I knew exactly when – day 5, when they would cross the security border into the Palestinian-controlled West Bank. Oh sure, there was yet another “traditional” site to visit in Bethlehem, the Church of the Nativity, that was absolutely not maybe the exact location of Jesus’ birth. Ornate church – check. Gift shop with an assortment of Virgin Mary and sweet baby Jesus tchotchkes –check.
But that certainly wasn’t the part of day 5 that rocked my girl’s world into another dimension. No. All it took was to simply cross the checkpoint. Once you cross over to the other side of the wall, all the preconceived notions and indoctrination from your American Evangelical Christian culture about “those people” and what they believe and represent evaporates as does whatever narrative you’ve been led to believe from the American media.
Well, I suppose it doesn’t for everybody…but for those with eyes to see…and my girl has always had gorgeous eyes, sharply focused on lovely and mysterious things. She saw very clearly for the first time in her 20 years what life looked like outside the tarnished bubble, and it was –
Gut wrenchingly beautiful, heartbreaking, joyful, impossible, inspiring, frustrating beyond all description, hopeful beyond all description.
What was being birthed in her that day was unadulterated and unencumbered compassion…she was seeing exactly as Jesus does. This was a baptism of Spirit that a dunk in the Jordan couldn’t have begun to touch.
“Mom, I knew I was going to be changed on this trip. I knew being exposed to other cultures and seeing things for myself outside of books and what others have told me was going to expand my perceptions…but…but…” She trailed off not being able to find adequate words.
And what exactly was responsible for such radical transformation and epiphany? Seeing and hearing people and their reality and touching it for herself. That’s entirely it. Their stories, their experiences, their families, their hopes, their dreams, their despair, their fears, their anger, their joy, their culture and individual expression.
Holy crap! (surely that too must be for sale, if you find it, Kafafrin, you know I want need). Contrary to everything she’d been led to believe, Kathryn found Jesus hanging out on the Palestinian side of the graffiti-plastered barrier. Who woulda thunk it? (well, besides me…I totally called it).
“I mean, I know that discrimination, distrust and dehumanizing exists everywhere, but it’s so concentrated in this place.”
Oh it most certainly is…every bit as much as when Jesus walked in all those places where you are now. You, my girl, are truly seeing. Now to start walking into those undesirable places where you see love leads…into messy lives, holding nothing of yourself back, with no personal agenda or expectation…only open invitation. Love leads you to simply BE Jesus in the moment in connection with other broken humans, shedding the indoctrination and tradition in order to see them (and very much yourself) as Jesus sees.
I thought I couldn’t be any more proud of this woman or marvel any deeper that I had anything to do with her being in this world. Now I know better. I will never cease to be amazed, inspired, and encouraged by her. The only thing I will ever want for any of my children is for them to have eyes to see and ears to hear and the courage to follow where love leads. Falling on my face tonight in tears and awe that I got to “see” her baptism live from Israel.