Beauty for ashes – God’s amazing alchemy. Dorothy Day wrote, “Speaking of Christ: He did not force anyone to believe . . . . He did not coerce anyone. He emptied himself and became a servant.”
Once, as I was getting off the freeway ramp by work, I gave a $10 bill to a man holding a sign. He was so happy and grateful and said it was enough to buy shoes and then he showed me the whole sole was gone from one shoe. He immediately folded his sign and began to limp, on the hot road, across the street, to get shoes. Traffic pushed me forward and I wanted to give him more or take him shopping for shoes, but the opportunity passed.
The next day he was there again. I rolled down my window and said, “Hey you got new shoes,” and I offered him a few dollars. He came toward me and said, “You see me. I was feeling invisible.” I said, “Yes! I see you! You’re not invisible!” His face scrunched and he said, “Someone spit on me.” He began to cry. He said, “I used to steal and rob but no more. Now I beg. I need to call my probation officer and tell him I’m drinking alcohol again. I’ll go to jail, but I need to call.”
By now he was full on crying and began to bless me, God bless me, thank me, wish me a blessed day. He was so sincere and I knew this was a blessing straight from God. Traffic again propelled me forward and I pulled across the street into a parking space to let it soak in.
This is how God has been with me in my life. Beauty for ashes over and over again. When I have been unseen, when I have been discouraged, when I have been in trouble, He has seen me. I like Eugene Peterson’s translation of Matthew 5:45, “This is what God does. He gives his best – the sun to warm and the rain to nourish – to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty . . . live out your God created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”
I am so grateful for the generosity and graciousness of God. May it shine through the difficulties and disparagements of this day, I pray, on you.
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