Happy Anniversary to me! Today (July 12) is my 2nd anniversary. Not my wedding anniversary, however, but the anniversary of another memorable event. 2 years ago today, while cutting a branch off a tree in my backyard, from 25 feet in the air, I fell off the ladder, landed on both elbows, and broke both elbows and both wrists. Following surgery and a week’s stay at the hospital, there was another, longer stint in the hospital, during which I found out that I have a blood condition that makes my blood much more prone to clotting than most folks. But even more than the mix of frustration and thanksgiving that took place during my hospital stays and rehab that followed, I learned first hand what I had preached for years: I learned about grace. I learned that I had to rely on other people, I had to ask people, to do things for me that I had always done for myself but now couldn’t do at all. For a short time, I couldn’t feed myself, for a much longer time I couldn’t drive myself, I couldn’t cut my grass, I couldn’t wash my hair. (And in case you’re wondering, as many folks did but didn’t ask till later: Yes, I could wipe, but barely and not without much strained effort. Don’t ask.) What I learned in my recovery and rehab was that I needed others to do for me, or it wouldn’t get done.
Yesterday’s text was the Parable of the Good Samaritan. We have so misinterpreted this story, by moralizing it to be a “be like the good Samaritan and be a neighbor to other people.” Not that this is so bad, but if that’s all Jesus wanted to say, he could have avoided lots of angst from the crowd by not making the Samaritan the good guy. You see, Samaritans and Jews hated each other, and the Jewish crowd who heard this parable would not be able to equate “good” and “Samaritan.” No, I think Jesus turns this moral tale that we usually read into something much deeper. I think Jesus is saying here, ‘Put yourself into the place of the guy half-dead by the road. Would you let a Samaritan help you? Who would you let be a neighbor to you?” In other words, Jesus turns this story away from a “Do good to others” to “Let others do good to you, and then you can understand what it means to be good to others.” We can only share grace when we have experienced grace. For me, it took falling off a ladder 2 years ago to really get what that means. Happy anniversary to me!