Have you ever said to yourself, “I’m glad I’m not one of them?” My 11-year-old daughter Kate got hit by a car at the beginning of the school year, and our lives have been changed. Our lives have been turned upside down and I’ve been reminded a lot of the false dichotomy between “them” and “us.”
After four days recuperating, Kate returned to school. Kate was greeted warmly by so many, but others instead whispered to each other rather than addressing her. I have thought many times with adults, “They might not understand what we are going through, our daughter just got hit.”
Some people changed their demeanor dramatically when they found out. Rather than just passing by, many instantly empathized because they had been through something like it before themselves. We have been so thankful for all the support that people have shown and the understanding of the situation.
In some ways, our lives are much more challenged than usual — dealing with Kate’s physical suffering, our needing to handle recovery and safety details. You might call us poorer, but we also feel strangely blessed by this.
The Gospel of Luke (17:1, 7-14) calls us to invite the poor and those with disabilities to be with us, and to take the lower spots rather than places of honor — basically to be humble. At a minimum, we should share our gifts, food or supplies with those in need.
We are one of them
But we have something much greater to share — much more difficult, requiring a daily paradigm shift. We are one of them, is something we must take to heart. When we realize that, it changes us. We notice more. We feel more. We laugh more and cry more with those whom we previously ignored. We bless them and we are blessed, because we are them.
I’m wondering why it often takes a tragic event or scare to bring out this unity among us. So my dare to you this week is to think of each person you encounter as though they’ve just suffered something traumatic, and your main focus is to identify with them and help them to deal with it.
If you haven’t experienced that yet, you will.
(Steve Dressel, former pastoral Minister and director of lifelong faith formation, St. Boniface Parish)