Today, I wish I was blind. Truly. So I could not see as I do.

She stooped down to look her toddler daughter in the eyes and handed her a long stick to use as a way to feel her way around the park as her blind father was exploring the walking trail that winds beneath the Perrine Bridge. From where I was standing I understood the body language to mean that while the mother was concerned about her young daughter running with a stick, she risked giving her her own “white cane” so she could “see” the world around as her father did.

And I prayed, help me see the world the way you do, Father.

Equip me with the tools to walk the path and see as you do.

Seven days ago I woke up with a simple commission to stand for the foreigner and be a church that is known for love and radical hospitality, not fear. Seven days in a row, I simply gave up an hour when we usually share lunch or grab a sandwich to-go to stand on the Perrine Bridge, the gate to the city of Twin Falls, holding a simple black and white sign.

The sign reads, “We Welcome Refugees” – “I am the church, too.”

My intention was to be a voice of hope that echoes the promise God gives in Psalm 146:9 “The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow.” A voice of opposition to the church that says, be afraid – the enemy is at hand.

In the hour a day, I committed to prayer for the refugee crisis at hand.

In the hour a day, I committed to abstain from battling and surrender to the reality that I may not know the whole story or even part.

I prayed that the Church would rise to transcend the fears of unknown or known enemies, stop division among the body and cling to the promise that God is enough for peace and provision for the Jew and the Gentile. For the Idahoan and the Syrian. For the believer and the non-believer. For the American and the refugee.

True – I had a spiritual experience that helped me identify as a foreigner, a refugee, a sojourner in this land who longs for her home. True – I stand in a world view that believes this life on earth is not the end, nor the place where I will be comfortable and safe and fulfilled. True – I am not scared or threatened by other world views that oppose mine. True – I do not love my life unto death and I believe that this is the time when the “rubber meets the road” and we – the Church – need to practice radical hospitality – even in the face of “danger.” True – I believe Jesus was a radical and a refugee who didn’t play it safe and condemned the religious.

I didn’t know just how risky my actions would be.

There are signs all around. And my simple sign is just one of many.

I have been questioned. I have been interviewed. I have been judged. I have been slandered. I have been solicited. I have been praised. I have been sent packages and invitations to learn more about programs and groups. I have been associated with policies I do not believe in. I have been grouped with people I don’t know and ideology I don’t accept. I have been made fun of and also prayed for. I have stood alone and joined by friends and strangers. More than ever, I am alert to the conflict in my community and I intend to attend community forums and awareness meetings and continue to pray.

As cars honk or steer clear of me and my sign, I wonder – was that a happy honk or an angry honk? Will they wave, ignore, or flip me off? Does the driver change lanes to avoid “catching” this bleeding heart as if my weakness for the lesser is contagious or is he changing lanes to keep me safe or simply getting ready to turn left?

It is because I positioned myself to engage in these questions and committed to a small experiment that I have time to ponder these things.

I have a sense harder ponderings are ahead. And more complex tools will be needed to navigate the path ahead than a simple sign or a walking stick to go where I am going.

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But the view from the bridge is a unique perspective.

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14 thoughts on “Today, I wish I was blind. Truly. So I could not see as I do.

  1. Holy Father in Heaven, I pray you give Miss Jennifer the Spirit of wisdom & revelation in the knowledge of you. Cause the eyes of her understanding to be enlightened, that she may know what is the hope of your calling and the glorious riches of your inheritance in the saints…………..strengthen her with the power & might of your spirit, first, in her inner man, then her mind and body. Embolden her, giving her you knowledge, understanding and wisdom for each moment. Safeguard her, Father. To God Be All Glory, Amen!

  2. I wish you well, Jennifer. You are what Christians (indeed, all religious believers, and those who don’t believe, as well) should aspire to be. I am not particularly religious, but I will pray for you and for those whom you are trying to help. Can’t hurt, right?

  3. “You know the heart of a stranger, for you were strangers yourselves in the land of Egypt.” We read the verse every year at our Passover Seder. It takes someone like you to make it real, here and now. Rob Sonenthal and Elly Melamed, Arlington, Va.

  4. An appeal to compassion is never wrong, though not often popular. Thank you for your voice, for your actions and for your light.

  5. It can be discouraging, and even overwhelming, to see the rampant prejudice, distrust and paranoia in our country nowadays. Reading about your actions was a welcome relief. Best of luck to you; I’m sure you will need it, unfortunately.

  6. I am a Unitarian universalist and a practitioner of meditation in the Buddhist tradition. An openly gay man as well. I am sure there are many things we would not see eye to eye about, but blessings, blessings to you for your compassion and your witness in the name of the One who said “Whatsoever you do to the least of these my sisters and brothers, you do unto me” and “Come to me, you who are heavy-burdened, and I will give you rest”. Be well and be safe.

  7. I am not a religious man, but I can recognize goodness when I see it. I was taught that to save a life is the greatest thing one can do. Stand strong, there are many who stand with you.

  8. As a brother in Christ, I thank you for the stand you’re taking, and will keep you in my prayers. The Gospel is not about fear, but about a love which is greater than all our fears. Thank you for being true to Christ’s love in this way, and having the courage to step out of your comfort zone – a hard thing for all of us! – and do what you’re doing.

  9. Bless you for what you are doing. Too many people are infected by the mindless fear and hatred of those whom we should be helping — you are a bright light in an increasingly dark night.

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