Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Story of the Traveller from the Parable of the Good Samaritan

A certain traveller went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves. The traveller was stripped of clothing, wounded, and abandoned, left half dead.

Now it happened that several travellers passed that way, some of them even religious types. And when they saw me, they passed by on the other side of the road so as not to have any contact with me.

But a certain Samaritan, journeying on the same road, came to where I was. And this Samaritan, having seen me, showed me compassion, the first I had experienced in a long, long time. My wounds were bandaged, oil and wine poured into them for cleansing and healing; and the Samaritan set me on an animal, brought me to an inn, and took care of me

The next morning, before this good, good Samaritan left, there was a soft conversation with the inn keeper. It seemed the Samaritan was paying the inn keeper to care for me! And the Samaritan promised to reimburse the inn keeper for anything extra that might be spent for my care.

I rested at the inn for a fortnight, my beaten body so broken that I could hardly move. I could scarcely drink even water for the first couple of days. But the inn keeper was very patient with me, cleaning my wounds, reapplying salve and bandages; bringing me simple, nutritious food and cool water.

More importantly, the inn keeper talked with me and listened to me. Wasn't I aware that that road was the stomping ground for nefarious types who would seek to do me wrong? And my kindly host gave me some tips on self defence and how to avoid being taken in by people who would prey on me.

My great Samaritan friend returned -- I had not been forgotten! I was treated to new clothes and a haircut and then was taken back to my home. Assured that everything was as it should be, the Samaritan left me alone with my gratitude and my thoughts.

The scare kept me anchored for quite a few months; but then I heard the road beckoning me again.

I've always been a bit restless, a bit of a wanderer. You see, I found out when I was quite young that my mother gave me up when I wasn't even a year old. I landed in a lovely family who treated me as their own. But still -- how awful must a kid be if a mother can give it up?

I think that because I felt so dispensable, so disposable, I decided that maybe life in general was this way too. I decided early on never to miss an opportunity for a thrill, because who knew if that chance would ever return?

And so I headed back on the road, full of anticipation as to what this new adventure might hold. Before long I caught up with a group of people heading in the same direction I was. We started to chat and they invited me to a party they were planning on attending -- as a matter of fact, one of them confided, they had already started partying. Would I like to join in? I felt the rubber tourniquet tighten around my arm and shivered as the needle pierced my skin. But in a few moments I was flying, laughing, happy like I always imagined I could be. I was the life of that party. My new friends couldn't get enought of my smile, my jokes, my kisses. I felt like I truly belonged.

The next day (or several next days -- who could keep track of time?) I awoke on the side of the road with my head in a puddle of my own vomit. My hair was matted, my nose broken; my backpack and coat stolen; and through the torn thin clothes still left on me I could seen the shadows of hideous bruising on my legs and arms. Too weak to walk, I crawled to the shade of a shrub nearby and prayed for death.

But instead of death finding me, a friend and fellow traveller came across me! Deeply distressed at my condition, my friend took me to the hospital and begged them to get treatment for me.

The nurse and the doctor did a thorough examination of my person, pausing at the tracks on my arms. Then after I had been hosed down they put me into lockdown while I came out of the effects of what I had had shot into my veins.

The night terrors started: any time I would fall asleep I would see the faces of my sisters, my children, my parents, the mystery woman who gave birth to me and then abandoned me to this slow death that my life had become. I would scream, imploring someone, anyone, to sit with me and talk me down, to bring me water, to give me something for the pain and the fear. The social worker assigned to my file assured me that I would be fine in a few days.

And in a few days or weeks I was fine. I contacted one of my friends, who picked me up and took me for a meal and then took me home to my empty apartment and the myriad pictures of my children.

I live for my children. After this last scare I determined that I would be a better parent to them. I found a job I enjoyed, and with the money I made I took my children on a little holiday. We had so much fun being together, being children together, being in this circle of acceptance and love.

When we returned home, they asked if they could stay with me for a few days. So I went out to buy some groceries; while I was gone, I bumped into an old friend and immediately felt the craving again.

Some hours later my friend dumped me off on my doorstep. My beautiful firstborn son helped me inside. He held my head while I retched and moaned; he piled warm blankets on me when I shuddered from the cold. In the early morning light he went to the store to buy eggs and milk with his own money and he fixed breakfast for his younger sister and brother. He gave me coffee, and finally I slept.

When I awoke, they were gone. How could they not go? I called another friend, a real friend who sighed, "Not again," but nonetheless came and picked me up and took me to yet another centre for yet another attempt to get me clean.

This has been the story of my life for about a decade now. You could play connect the dots on my arms and legs, even my feet and neck -- nowhere you can find a vein has been safe from the love-hate battle I have tried so hard to fight; but I am getting so tired and I fear I am losing this game.

Only three dots connect my heart. My children. It is for them that I have tried so hard to battle on, it is for them that I have wandered from place to place trying to find something to fill up this emptiness -- something that will last longer than the few moments of blissful oblivion, those few moments of feeling the emptiness inside filled up that my captor can provide -- so that I can make up for the holes in their hearts that having a part-time parent has caused.

I have left everyone who has loved me. I have left everyone who has been loved by me. Now that I have told you my whole story, will you leave me too?

"No," you reply. "Trust your children to me. I will never leave them nor forsake them. I will never leave you nor forsake you either. Come to me and I will give you the rest you need."

Why would you want me? I ask brokenly. Just look at me ... and I throw off my coat, exposing the piercings in my arms, the piercings in my legs and feet, the record of my pain. Just look at me, I whisper again.

"Just look at me ..." you whisper back. And you throw off your coat, exposing the piercings in your hands, the piercings in your side and feet, the record of your pain.

And as I reach my scarred arms out to you, you stretch your scarred hands out to me. And you lift me up into your arms and cradle me next to your heart. Your tears wash away the haunted facelessness of my past, the recurring terrors of my present, the dimming spectre of my future. Your hands gently touch my arms and with your touch my flesh is made new.

And as I close my eyes and relax in your embrace I know I can safely fall asleep, know that I am with the one who will always love me.

And finally I am at peace.
January 28, 1967 - November 21, 2009

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Karyn. This was my Advent gift, and enters me to a spirit of waiting for Redemption, drawing nigh. I wept and received the gift of holy insight. Thank you.


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