I should be working on my OChem problem set, but something really strange and frightening and surely ordained by God happened to me this morning. I had to go pick up some garments for a culture show, and on my way back home, I took a seat on a bus.
I was greeted by the scent of dried urine.
I looked around and quickly found the source. An old man sitting in front of me.
I turned my body away from him in revulsion. Of course, of course I would blindly choose a seat behind an old homeless man that smelled like pee. I was not happy with my life choices at that point in time.
The bus ride continued like that for about the next eight minutes. As I turned my face away, trying to avoid the scent and at the same time willing myself to remain where I was seated (because getting up from my seat would have been too strong a reaction), I thought of how Jesus cleansed lepers. Jesus touched lepers. And I was trying to run away from an old man who smelled like pee.
Just when I was about to get up, he proclaimed: “Jesus loves me!”
I didn’t say anything to him. Perhaps he was proclaiming it to the entire bus, and I could just ignore him. But his words stood like an accusation before me. They said: even if you can’t bear to smell me, Jesus loves me.
And then he said, “God bless you.”
I didn’t say anything.
He said it again, “God bless you!”
And I knew he was talking to me. And I looked up and smiled politely and whispered “God bless you too.” He was not a beautiful person to look at, but he smiled brightly at me when I said so.
And then he began to yell at me about how he struggled with the bottle and about how he had grandchildren older than me. I hurriedly got off of the bus when it came to my stop.
Ladies and gentlemen, this occurrence was not by accident.
This morning, I am in awe of the love of God, and how those who we think should hate God most can be the most assured of His love for them. Assured enough to yell about it on a CTA bus. So assured that they can even bless those who revile them. I am also deeply saddened by the giant chasm between what I am called to be doing and what I am actually doing.
I have a lot to learn from the least of these.