Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
I have learned to pay attention when multiple spiritual nudges arrive in short order.
The first concerned a patient at my clinic. Long before any of us ever met him, for reasons unknown, this man decided that he was an invalid. He pretty much refused to get out of bed. He became morbidly obese. Then came diabetes, hypertension, congestive heart failure and kidney failure.
Any suggestion that there might be a psychological issue was rejected. Referrals to counselors were refused. Incorporating diet and activity into his therapy was a nonstarter.
Last Tuesday, the county coroner notified us that our patient died in his sleep at age 42. One of the most unnecessary deaths I've seen in 30+ years as a nurse.
The second nudge arrived at the grocery check stand. The woman ahead of me turned, looked at my basket, and exclaimed, "you've got food in there!". She was quite surprised.
My surprise came when she asked the checker if the store sold pre-cut strawberries. Doing it herself was "too bothersome".
On First Day, I was heading to the home of the meeting childcare provider. Two ducks were sitting in the middle of the road. I slowed down, pretty certain that the birds would move.
I was wrong.
I stopped and peered at them over the hood of the car. They didn't even bother to look up. Being a tree hugging, animal loving, nonviolent, vegetarian Quaker, I passed by on the shoulder of the road, picked up Alima, our child are provider, and headed to Alison's home. Alison is an elderly woman who suffers from Alzheimer's disease. She also suffered a stroke years ago, effecting her speech.
I held the week's nudges up to the Light during meeting for worship, wondering how often I might have refused to do the right thing because I thought it was too bothersome, too difficult.
Then Alison spoke. She stuttered and stumbled, struggling with broken neurons. Most was just garbled noise, but sitting next to her, I understood enough to know that Spirit was moving in her. Faithful to the leading, though not very successful in a worldly sense, she settled back into the silence.
A strong image came forward - Jesus cursing the fig tree. A Biblical story that has always been difficult for me. Why would Jesus curse a tree when it wasn't even the right season for figs?
Perhaps because we are called to go beyond our own nature? Called to do the difficult, the bothersome? Move out of the comfortable and normal? To bear fruit out of season?
Then we are blessed and not cursed.
And maybe, just maybe, a hungry person eats a strawberry, ducks avoid becoming road kill, an unexpected message is heard and we find we can get up and walk.