The Disfigured

As we all prepare for this Sunday April 8th, 2012,  a day some recognize as “Resurrection Day,” while others observe in a more secular way, I was struck by an image that puts the struggles of life in proper perspective.

I found myself at a supermarket this last evening to pick up a few things to make our Sunday meal enjoyable, and of course, just as with you, this is normally a mundane necessity of life. However this evening was no normal event. As I walked the aisles of this busy market I found myself alone except for a black man carrying a small basket. Normally this would not be a pertinent detail but as you will soon see it was.

As I entered the aisle I glanced ahead to the person I was preparing to pass as we all often do. At first nothing seemed out of the norm until he turned my way, revealing the utter destruction to his face from what appeared to be fire, or maybe scars of war, damage so severe his facial features were virtually gone, including most of the normal pigment, leaving his face mostly a featureless bright pink with a few splotches of normal tone.  As I continued closer he leaned over to set down his basket on the floor and turn his attention back to the items on the shelf. I realized he was managing his item from the shelf with two hands void of fingers save for a few short nubs.  I openly admit as I passed I could not help but look back as this man dropped his item in the basket still sitting on the floor, and then stooped as he struggled to regain control of the handles that had recessed into the space design with this intention.

At this point, like you may have done, I wondered if I should ask if he needed help but was reminded that he deals with this reality every day and must manage without the help and pity of others. Yet I could not help but feel great empathy for the struggle he not only was managing but the greater struggle he will endure his remaining days, not just physical but emotional. No longer considered by most as just another person. Not fitting in among most circles of society. Dealing with glances such as mine. Always feeling like the world is observing him as a creature on display.

Then I recall another, a man who suffered far beyond imagination. Rejected by his own. Tortured undeservedly. Beaten to disfigurement in an allegory of the effects of sin carved in human flesh. Ultimately, and most profoundly, taking on the rejection of the Father he loved more than life itself for the crimes of all mankind against all that is pure.

On this Resurrection Day let us remember that this holiday is not about golf tournaments. Not eggs, nor chocolate, nor bunnies. It is about  the very embodiment of love who didn’t wait to ask if I needed his help, but instead reached down and took the basket of my spiritually disfiguring corruption on himself, that I might be called a son of God.

Looking back in my mind I recall that fleeting moment of eye contact with the man do so disfigured. I recall us both looking away, unwilling to take that moment of human contact to the next level, a smile, a tip of the head, even a hello. Then I wonder what would happen if it had been the Son of Man. No doubt he would not have looked away to avoid connecting with my soul. The question, would I? Would you?

Pic from movie “The Passion”

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