Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Leper Colony


Every now and again you come across a life that is so bright and well defined that it makes your own life seem dim and shapeless. That's how I'm feeling reading Shane Claiborne's biography-of-sorts The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical. As a student Shane found his faltering faith awakened in the company of a group of homeless families taking refuge in a derelict cathedral in Philadelphia. Before long his journey had taken him to work alongside Mother Teresa in Calcutta and later to the war-torn streets of Bhagdad. Shane's gracious voice of provocation and challenge is especially poignant in his reflections on his time amidst the lepers of Ghandiji Prem Nevas:
"I learned from the lepers that leprosy is a disease of numbness. The contagion numbs the skin, and the nerves can no longer feel as the body wastes away. In fact, the way it was detected was by rubbing a feather across the skin and if the person could not feel it, they were diagnosed with the illness. To treat it, we would dig out or dissect the scarred tissue until the person could feel again. As I left Calcutta, it occurred to me that I was returning to a land of lepers, a land of people who had forgotten how to feel, to laugh, to cry, a land haunted by numbness. Could we learn to feel again?"
I can relate to that. To me it sounds like a metaphor for the church - a place where those riddled with the leprosy of selfishness find a community in which they can start to feel again. After all, how anyone be a true Christian without the ability to feel?

UPDATE: I was just watching the video to Numb by Linkin Park and noticed for the first time that it's shot in what appears to be a derelict church. Are they on to something? Are they in cahoots with Claiborne!

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1 comment:

hende said...

I remember rob lacey writing something about the 10 lepers who were healed by Jesus and only 1 came back with a box of roses and a thankyou card. He wondered if the remaining 9 felt hard done by. Not in the "spare a coin for an ex-leper" kind of a way but more wondering if they'd PREFER to feel numb because afterall FEELING=PAIN.

As you observed in a previous blog our churches are not always first in line to embrace pain. Nor am I.
emotionally NUMB or the capacity for emotional PAIN...truth is sometimes I opt for the numbness.

Steve chalke suggests that the reason that moses couldn't see the face of God is because the face of a God of love would be etched with unbearable suffering, hurt and pain.

I guess the more I want to see Jesus the more open I must be to feel his pain...question is if jesus digs at my numb heart until I can feel again will I thank him for the fellowship of sufferings?