I Am a Beggar

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(The Woman)

There she was.  Stumbling along a dusty road, desperate, sick, needy.  She needed a physician.  The right kind of physician.  One that could actually help her.  She would do anything, follow Him anywhere, if she could just get to Him.  If her feet could just carry her a little faster.  Why wouldn’t her feet move faster?  She pleaded with her body to help her.  Her heart swelled with hope and faith to the rhythm of every step.  She was so anxious.  Her wind of infirmities has blown for too long.  But today, might be the day.  Could He calm the raging storm that has plagued her for 12 years?  Could she finally take a breath from her sea of trials that have overpowered her?  She wants to believe, will do anything to be cured.  Her heart might possibly burst with hope.  And she’s not the only one.  She is one of many.  So many are following Him.  Throngs of people needing Him, seeking Him and only Him.  And although she had every reason under the moon to give up and lose hope, she kept on.

Step, step, step.

Each step a little closer.

She just wanted to be healed.

Her blood disease has been such a mystery. She has been so miserable. Spent all that she had on different physicians, so she could be healed.  Can you imagine?  She just wanted to be whole and would do anything to have her health.  But to her dismay, her 12 years of searching was in vain.  For no one could cure her.

But this woman was not a quitter.  In fact, a “Lifetime” movie could be made about her and her determination.  You know, the kind of woman who puts on her game face and overcomes obstacles regardless of her circumstance.  An “Eye of the tiger” kind of woman.  The kind of woman you admire because this woman wasn’t ready to accept the fact that the rest of her life would be spent diseased.  She would not be defeated.  And because she was not a quitter and because she was a fighter, she was open to all possibilities.  And that openness led her down a dusty road in pursuit of Him.

Step, step, step.

Each step a little closer.

And then finally, she saw Him.

Tired and weary from her journey.

There He was.

There He is.

The physician.

The one.

Walking and talking with His flock of followers.  He was smiling, teaching, gently swaying with each step.  And when she saw Him, she knew that if she could do no more than touch the hem of his garment, she would be cured.  That’s it.  That’s all she needed to do.  Never say a word, or make herself known.  She just needed to touch Him.

She pushed her way through the crowd and meekly reached, brushing her fingers along the threads of His clothing.  And the storm within her ceased.

Immediately.

She was cured.

Just like that.

No more disease.  No more broken body.  No more misery.

I imagine her knees hitting the floor.

Immediately.

Head cradled in the palm of her own hands.  I imagine her heart dripped from her eyes, creating its own sea of gratitude on that dusty path.  I imagine it soaking all those around her.  I imagine her swimming in freedom.  Relief.  For she had found the living water.  She would no longer hunger for answers or search for wholeness.  Her steps had finally led her to The Master of Wholeness.

And there’s something about having the depths of the ocean swim in your soul, and a heart that might nearly burst from the swelling, that does not allow anonymity. Because this woman and her faith, although surrounded by many, was not like the others.  Yet, she wanted so badly to remain silent and unnoticed.  But she would be the one that He would come to know.  She would make history.  Her faith would be placed high upon exemplary peaks.  She may not have a “Lifetime” movie made about her, no, she would make a debut in “The Good Book.” Luke 8:43-48 to be exact.

He felt His own power heal her, despite the many hands that surrounded Him.  And when she realized she could not remain hidden, she was afraid.  He commended her for her faith and sent her on her way, whole and in peace.  For He truly is the Prince of Peace.  A physician.  A shepherd who knows His own sheep.  Who watches over his flock.

_____________________

(The Man)

There he was.  A grown man.  Every Sunday.  He got out of the big white cargo van with his roommates.  His “family”.  When I was a young girl, I remember watching all of them, wondering and wishing I knew why they were the way they were.  Most of them had Down Syndrome and the others had different handicaps.  I remember one of the men very vividly.  Like it was yesterday.  He got up once a month and approached the pulpit at church and spoke the only words I think he knew how to speak.  Speaking was a challenge for this man.  But without fail, he got up every month and repeated the same phrase at least 20 times, very, very slowly.  And without fail, it was the highlight of the day for me.  If you weren’t paying close attention, you wouldn’t understand him.  It took effort to make out the only words I ever heard him say…

“I’m thankful for Jesus Christ.”

“I’m thankful for Jesus Christ.”

“I’m thankful for Jesus Christ.”

“I’m thankful for Jesus Christ.”

“I’m thankful for Jesus Christ.”

Over and over and over again.

And then he would shuffle back to his seat.

Nothing more, nothing less.

I wish I could remember his name.  I wish I knew where to find him.  I wish I could hug him and thank him for his outstanding example.  And I wonder, if I could only mutter one sentence in my life, what would it be?

________________________

(The Beggar)

There he was.  One of many.  But the one I would come to know.  Thomas.  He was sitting on a ragged, old, dark green blanket.  Long, stringy, blonde hair peeked out from under his old ball cap.  Teeth stained yellow.  His hands were rough.  Dirty.  If I were to guess his age, I would say he was in his later 20’s.  Sitting next to him was the love of his life.  His dog.  She was black and curious.  Despite her bullish and rough exterior, she was extremely docile.  Polite.  I saw a braid of wisdom and sadness twist through her dark eyes as she tilted her head to examine me.  Her name was Lily. Next to Lily was a sign, again, one of many.  Nothing new.  Letters scribbled on an old cardboard box that had been torn to size.  On it was his plea…

“Anything will help”

Thomas lives on the street.  A cement wall on 200 South and Main supports his back. Public transportation, potted city plants, pavers, bugs, dirt and noise landscape his 4×4 foot dwelling, for now.  Soon, a layer of snow will drench his green blanket.  Chills will multiply through his thin clothes as the temperatures begin to drop.  Winter is coming.  Hunger will strike and he will go searching, needing and pleading to fill his empty body.  Given the stares and disgust written on the faces of those that pass by, I’m guessing his soul is also hungry.  I’m sure each dagger of pity sends his love tank further and further into the red.  Being ignored and shamed will do that naturally to any human being.

Thomas is homeless.  Lily is homeless.

Thomas has needs.  Thomas is hungry, alone and poor.

Somewhere along his path called life, he messed up.  He lost hope.  He lost respect for himself and thought that begging and panhandling would be the best solution.  At some point in his life he threw his clean hands up in the air, and traded them for dirt-stained hands.  He is poor in spirit.  How can he not be?

I was walking down Main Street in Downtown Salt Lake City.  I passed Thomas.  When I got to the corner, I stopped.  Thought about the young man I just passed and decided to go back. I handed him some money and squatted down in front of him.  I asked what his name was.  I asked him about his dog.  I asked him why he was living on the streets.  He told me that a deal had gone south and his friends and family had abandoned him. He’s been on the streets for 3 months.  I asked him what his plans were when the snow starts to hit the ground.  He will find a shelter.  We continued to chat.  We talked about Christ and how we are all brothers and sisters.  He said that not a lot of people see him as their brother.  I told him that there really isn’t much difference between him and I.  Our needs are just different.  We continued to chat for a bit longer and I wished my fellow brother well.

______________________

(Me)

And here I am.  In my warm and cozy house.  A beggar.  Just like Thomas.  Just like the apostle, Elder Holland said in his amazing talk, “Are we not all beggars?”

I am here, with a my wonderful family, a blanket on my lap, a heater, a fridge, clothing, health, loved ones and more than a person needs. I am in my house, but, I am far from home.

My heavenly home.

There really isn’t a lot different about Thomas and I.  Thomas is hungry.  I am hungry.

He is thirsty.  I am thirsty.

He is lonely.  I get lonely.

He begs.  I beg.

I need, need, need.

He messed up, I mess up.

I make mistakes, I get lost, I get sick, I understand poor in spirit. I understand depletion and starvation. I have been broken before.

I, like the woman, need a physician.

I, like Thomas, am a beggar.

I also have a cardboard sign, torn at the edges.  Only I don’t wear it on my sleeve, place it by my feet and it isn’t written on my skin with dirt and grime. It is written on my soul.  And I have to hold up my sign every day in my heart towards my home.  I have to plead with my Father and beg for forgiveness.

Every week, I find myself rushing, sometimes stumbling, needing, waiting anxiously to get inside the chapel doors.  Because if I can simply “touch the hem of his garment” like the woman, or partake of His goodness, I know He can cure me.  He can lighten my load. And when I am hungry, I know my soul will be fed.

You know what, this Happiness project has awakened senses within me that have slumbered for a while.  I think I’ve been too busy trying to survive through pregnancies and babies and life and all of its challenges, that I’ve forgotten to take the time to look up, look around.  It’s hard to do when your nose is to the ground.  But there are people around us that need us.

Putting that survival list aside, looking up and stretching my arms out to uncomfortable places has been so incredibly amazing and so incredibly challenging.  I’m still trying to find a balance between the mundane and the extraordinary.  I’m learning. I’m thankful for the time here on earth to figure it all out.

As this week of Thanksgiving starts, and the joyful season of Christmas, I hope that we, you, whoever you are and me can remember that we are all in need of something.  We are all like Thomas in some way.  We can all help each other.  We are all brothers and sisters and we all could use more love.  There is no cap on love. I hope you will stretch out your heart and hands and lift someone up that has fallen down and is feeling bruised.  I hope we can see those around us that are less fortunate and not deplete their souls with pity, but lift them up with love.

And I hope that when life is tough, or sad or frustrating and it’s not going the way we’d like, that we can all be like the man who can barely speak, yet can utter a simple, powerful phrase….I am thankful for Jesus Christ.

We all have something we can be grateful for.

I hope you find gratitude, happiness and love this wonderful season.

I love you.  Who ever you are.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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