The Poverty of Being Loved
Naaman could not hide his disease despite his many victories in war and the splendor of the Aramean court. He clung to the words of the Israelite slave girl and traveled to another country in search of healing. A proud man, he brought gold, silver, chariots, and servants. He did not beg. He gave commands. So it was expected that the holy man would greet him with respect. No. Elisha sent word to bathe in the Jordan. Naaman was incensed. He deserved better than insolence and a dirty river.
Naaman could not hide his brokenness. He was coaxed past indignation and down he plunged into the river. His rotting flesh bloomed like a lily. Amazed, Naaman sped back to the holy man, this time offering his heart.
We disguise our brokenness. It is not supposed to be there, lurking behind our fine deeds. We are supposed to get things right. The philosopher tells us to live according to the law which we give ourselves. No other power exists above us. So we strive to be flawless and pity those whose failures are visible. We serve meals to the poor because we are sure that we don’t belong among them. I could never sit alongside these worn people and share their food. I am cut from different cloth. Still, the weakness we keep secret troubles us. Whom could we trust with our neediness?
Joseph’s boy had returned home, praised for the way he had spoken in the synagogue. Things turned ugly when he recalled the Syrian who was cured in the Jordan. How dare he fail to respect his people? He no longer belongs among us. Drive him away. Kill him.
Listening is the hardest part. How can your words get past the obstacles on the path? We are full of ourselves. Blocking the way is the hulking sense of what we deserve. We cannot believe that these words are meant for us. I am not a leper. I am not homeless. I am not a foreigner. How could it be so simple as stretching out my hand when I grow too tired to hide my brokenness any longer? When I surrender to the worst, room opens up for love.