Live always at the edge of poetic possibilty, even in the face of severe prose. - Walter Bruggemann

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Every Day, and then the Rest

A knock on the door startled me. It’s not often that I get unannounced visitors or intentional visitors for that matter. My Jerusalem apartment is a garden apartment according to Israeli’s. I call it a mole hole. It’s out of the way in this four floor apartment building because to access it you have to descend street level by seven steps and walk down the side of the building.

I get up to answer the door. A clean cut man, 30ish or so, tried to talk to me by using some hand motions and noise. It was clear to me that he was hearing impaired in some way. He handed me a piece of paper and scribbled on the paper was a message, in French. My knowledge of French is even less than my knowledge of Hebrew. So, I couldn’t read his message. Although I instinctively knew where this conversation was headed, I grabbed a book written in English and I said, I read and speak English only. He pointed to his ear to let me know that he couldn’t hear me. I pointed to the book again to indicate that I only spoke English. He pointed to his ear and mouth to let me know that he couldn’t hear me.

OK, whereto from here? I looked at him and shrugged my shoulders. A part of me was hoping that he would just go away, I knew what he wanted. He was persistent and made signs of eating, hand to mouth. I gestured back at him with my palm turned upward, my thumb gliding over my other four fingers in the universal “I want money” sign. He smiled and shook his head yes. I smiled and gestured “wait a minute”.

I had been collecting spare agorot since I moved into my apartment. Agorot are these annoying lower denomination shekels, like pennies. Only they are much worse. They’re big for being worth so little and heavy in your purse. My intention with the bag of spare agorot was to put it into a tzadaka, charity box somewhere or hand it over to a beggar on the street of which there are many. But now the beggar had come to my door.

Without thinking we come to God’s door each day with our deepest yearnings and needs hoping and praying for a handout. I wonder if, when we beggars knock on the God door, does God think…you again?....what do you want now?...ah, another handout?....let me see if I have some spare change lying around. No, the door is always opened to us even if we think God has just opened it a crack. And, there are no communication problems. God understands the words we use, the gestures we make, the tears, and even our inability to voice our desires. We can come openly knowing that our presence will be fully received by the Divine’s presence. We all beg, and we are all received.

I gave the beggar the agorot plus a few extra shekels that I had in my wallet. He thanked me and left. We are to give freely and unconditionally as God has given to us. It’s not always easy is it? But then again we are not God. Let us pray for the courage to be more God-like in our giving to each other when we are approached by someone in need.


hoppy said...

Interesting story. All well and good if he doesn't make a routine of returning or harass you in any way.


Suzanne said...

I guess that's the chance you take when you give to someone.

Cynthia said...

But then again it would be nice if we made a routine of returning to God and 'harassing' the almighty with even our petty desires.

Wonderful reflection.

HAH said...

Je n'ai pas de petite monnaie.

Pronounced: Shuh nay PAH duh puh-teet moh-NAY

Translation: I haven't any coins. Maybe he reads lips in French??

Good luck!

Suzanne said...

HAH and Cynthia,
thank you for your thoughts and french instruction. I have a suspicion that we often harass the almighty, well at least I do.