I am in the middle of reading Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder (a literary journalist I L-O-V-E). It is the story of Harvard educated Dr. Paul Farmer, a man dedicated to bringing decent healthcare to the world’s poorest of the poor in Haiti. In this excerpt, Kidder relates Farmer’s thoughts on faith:
“The fact than any sort of religious faith was so disdained at Harvard and so important to the poor–not just in Haiti but elsewhere, too–made me even more convinced that faith must be something good…”
In the peasant phrase, an unnecessary death was a “stupid death,” and he was seeing a lot of those.
“Surely someone is witnessing this horror show?” he’d say to himself. “I know it sounds shallow, the opiate thing, needing to believe, palliating pain, but it didn’t feel shallow. It was more profound than other sentiments I’d known, and I was taken with the idea that in an ostensibly godless world that worshipped money and power or, more seductively, a sense of personal efficacy and advancement, like at Duke and Harvard, there was still a place to look for God, and that was in the suffering of the poor. You want to talk crucifixion? I’ll show you crucifixion…”
A place to look for God. In the poor. The world’s forgottens and castoffs. Those living in ruins.
Something about this rings so true for me, and yet something else shines forth as well. Looking for God, searching for something holy and spiritual in this material world, doesn’t have to go further than visiting my neighbor.
First of all, there are those right here in my city, my neighbors, who are in great need, and there are steps I can take to lend a hand. The first baby step, the easiest, and somehow the hardest thing to do, is to just say hello.
Second of all, I am blessed enough to live in a neighborhood with other believers, and all I have to do is walk down the street to hear them speak the voice of my Lord.
I am finding that walking in his Spirit doesn’t have to be some ethereal, metaphorical kind of thing. Just take a walk down the street. Say hello. See where he leads you.