BEEF STEW HEART

Can I just appeal to your heart for a moment?  Deep down where your most sensitive vulnerabilities reside.  That wee, little flame hidden way back behind all the shadows of every lust, every fear, every envy, every hunger, and every sense of justice, entitlement, or pride.  Yeah, past all of that.

Can you even find that place?

I’m talking about that little, needy, place in your soul that you don’t advertise to others.  That place in your heart that used to be a warm bond at your mother’s breast before you were old enough to talk.  That place that once was so happy just to be alive, to breathe air, and knew no fear and no selfish ambition – only warmth and love… way back before you ever experienced a so much as a scolding, much less abuse, mistrust, or pain.  I mean that little place that believed your dad was the smartest and strongest man in the world and that your mom was the kindest, warmest person who knew exactly how you like your mashed potatoes and gravy, and the world seemed perfectly right.

I mean that little you, the you you used to be when Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me…” and he meant you too.  I mean THAT little you.  Not the you who read that passage and wondered what it meant.

How long has it been since you visited that place in your heart?

Maybe some readers never experienced such warmth.  But by the time you were four years old, that fragile place had been attacked a few times, and you began learning that the world ain’t fair, and you are gonna have to stand up for yourself and stuff like that.  And so you began protecting that place in your heart, burying it under insulations and layers of protection.  Over time, you might have stopped even visiting there.  You just man your post at the wall, and hope against hope that place is still there and still protected, and yet as you really think about it, you realize that in all your baggage and efforts to protect that place, you have betrayed it, betrayed the innocence there.

Maybe you are ashamed to visit there, to be that person.  Do you see that innocent self in the mirror when you shave?

Well, if you can open up a bit, I want to appeal to THAT place inside you.

Can I?

Can I just talk for a moment to that heart of hearts buried down there?

Here is what I want to talk about:

I want to ask you to imagine…

Imagine the world differently a moment.

It’s cold out tonight.  The wind has blown cold all day.  Did you know some people spend their whole day in it?  And their night?  Do you know (I know your outer self knows this, but I wonder if that inner four year old knows, so please, please, please… let me talk to him a moment.  Because I think if he knew, really knew about this, he wouldn’t make all the excuses for not caring that your jaded outer shell of humanity makes.  So please, let me talk here a moment to that part of your soul you have been neglecting.  Just hush!)

Sorry, about that.  Anyway, do you know there are some people who are actually homeless?

Yeah.  There are.

Let me explain something here.  Most of them are jaded too.  You don’t live out on the streets for long in the level of vulnerability that you know.  No.  Nobody does.  It’s a killer out there.

What?  What is a killer???

Oh, my.  I did get deep huh?

We can talk about that later.  For now, just imagine inviting just one of those homeless people into your home tonight at your kitchen table and sharing some beef stew just like the kind your mom made when you were a kid.

Don’t have the recipe?

Call her.  Do you have any idea how precious it would be for your mom to hear from YOU?  She has heard a lot from that other you… that you who went off to college and law school and worked so hard to build a life.  But she hasn’t heard from vulnerable, breast suckling you in many, many years.

No.  You don’t need to talk baby gibberish to her, just speak of warm memories and of your love and gratitude for her and ask her for the recipe.  That alone will be remarkable to her.  She might really want to prepare it for you herself, and you can’t beat that if she does.

Then share a little bit of THAT tenderness with that bum you invite into your home.

Here’s the thing:  You have a home.  An honest to God HOME.  A warm house with beef stew cooking in it and all the wonderful smell and warmth against that cold wind out there.  And that outer shell of humanity you looks at it and thinks about updating the kitchen about how expensive the lawn service is and about how nice the new model homes looked when you went to last year’s Lubbock Parade of Homes.  That outer shell of humanity you looks at all the fantastic home you have and feels inferior, like if he had taken that other career opportunity ten years ago, you would be living in a much finer home in a better neighborhood.  But you and I both know that there ain’t no replacing that door jam in the laundry room with the marks showing how tall your kids were when they were six and nine.  We both know that the warmth of this place and the smell of that stew is priceless!

And if you invite a homeless person into this little piece of heaven and actually share a meal tonight, you will suddenly feel like you have far more than you deserve.   You will worry that with a stranger in the house it is all in jeopardy and is not safe.  You will also, believe it or not, suddenly see the gifts of God through that one’s eyes, and as you share those gifts you might even begin to see the Giver in those eyes.

That vacation trip you have been saving for will suddenly seem … well… secondary.  You will find yourself visiting the edge of heaven in your own kitchen.  And IF this guest of yours will behave honorably, you will feel compelled to ask him to stay in that guest room of yours that has gone empty night after night for the last three years.

I can’t help but wonder if you might not realize just how good you have it, and how much better even that is when you share it.

And in the final analysis, a vacation in a world that comes to know and honor what you have now come to know and honor is a far better vacation than one in a town full of needy beggars on every corner.  In fact, and I know this is going to blow the mind of that outer shell of humanity you have been calling yourself for a few decades now, but you might even take your new friend with you on your trip!

Don’t knock it til you have tried it.

Anyway, thanx for letting me talk to you a minute.  I think if you take this little talk to heart, you will find that a good bowl of beef stew has not tasted quite so good in a very, very long time.  And I really don’t want you to miss it.

 

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