Sunday, November 23, 2008

Maybe The Blind Should Lead The Blind!

Hello All,

As many of you are aware, my 35th birthday just passed this last Monday. By Wednesday night, the night of my Home Fellowship, I was pretty sure that all the festivities were past. I was wrong, as my wife surprised me with a quick getaway to San Diego's Gaslamp District on Friday. My wife loves surprises and I have to admit that while I loathe being surprised, I love what happens when my wife does it, for it ends up just being us, doing what we love to do. That means eating, sleeping, hanging, talking and driving, without children! (We love our children of course!)

She picked me up after the Women's study on Friday (she leads worship there...I am in my office...I don't attend women's events!) and we went to one of my favorite places for lunch, the NYC Cafe. After an incredible Corned Beef sandwich, my favorite on the planet, we made a spur of the moment decision to go down to Sea World. Funny, but being without the kids seemed to open up a whole new world of discovery, as we slowly, leisurely explored the now very familiar Sea World ground, finding fish that we had never seen and enjoying the excellent day of weather. Among the more enjoyable exhibits, the stonefish provided us with prolonged delight, as their feeding was completely fascinating. I know: I'm a nerd!

After Sea World, it felt wrong, but I needed to eat at Red Lobster. I was just dying for some fish! All day at Sea World, every time, I ask the question, "What does it taste like?" Thankfully, most of the time, I am unable to act upon my craving for lack of duckets! We found a Red Lobster, (awfully close to Sea World by the way...hmm?) sat and ate, talked for a while and enjoyed a sweet cuisine. By the way, if you are good at saving, love seafood and want to splurge a little, I highly recommend the wood fired Tilapia. It was brilliant! Throw some crab legs on there and you've got a fine feast.

The next morning, Lela and I walked slowly over to Starbucks, taking in the giant buildings all around us, musing that we could never live in such a place. On the way, we saw a blind man walking on the other side of the street. As usual, my heart went out to him. I wondered what it was like to be blind and wished that I could be helpful, but he seemed to have everything in hand, so Lela and I continued walking a little bit until we entered the Green house of Caffeinated bliss.

Funny, but in the city, there are no seats inside or outside of the Starbucks. The barista with the dreadlocks told us that usually people would just walk in from work and walk back to their desks. It was a little bit of a bummer, but it set us up for what became quite a comical turn of events.

We came out of the coffee shop and saw the blind man across the street being instructed by a man in a nearby car. At first it seemed like the man was yelling something insulting, which really boiled my blood. I realized that he was just being loud and was trying to help the blind man, who now appeared really lost. I felt compelled to take the opportunity to help this man. I crossed the street in hopes of making a difference in this man's day and life.

I came up to the man, who was obviously homeless and also, almost necessarily eccentric. In a bit of irony, the man was wearing a toupee. Let that sink in. Think about that for a second!

Immediately, the man let's us know that he is going to be alright and that we should not worry about him. I had prefaced my approach with a supposed sensitivity to that very thought. I told him, "You probably don't need our help, but you can have it if you need it." I thought that that was pretty clever, but I think that I might have tipped him off to my own insecurity.

He sounded like Peter Sellers from the Pink Panther and was explaining that he just wanted to find the Bank Of America. He had that kind of Frenchman's accent and I would have sworn it sounded "Clouseau"esque. I wanted to know where his accent was from, and so I asked the obvious question pertaining to his origin. With every question, he answered with a question of his own that mirrored mine. "Where are YOU from?," "Where is YOUR family from?," etc. I am slow, but I finally understood that he did not want to divulge information to a stranger who now knew that he was going to a bank. Alright Frank, strike one.

So now, it's time to try to lead this man to the bank. I start walking and do not even notice that the man is not keeping pace with me. He has a cane and is trying not to trip! I am looking for where the bank is, but cannot really see it. Meanwhile, Lela is walking with the blind man, trying to talk him through the next movement.

I think that I see the bank in the distance and offer that information. I look back and Lela is trying to lead the man and I am trying to insist that he just look...oh, yeah, he's blind!

"It's just over here..." I say, as the words escape my lips, but the idea has obviously not run through any filter of thought. Strike two Frank!

Finally, we get to the bank, in what seemed like an hour long process and the blind man begins his descent down the stairs to the ATM. I think of remarking, "The ATM is right there. Do you see it?" but don't. Thankfully, I avoided strike three!

In the words of Kung Fu Panda, I probably sucked more at helping a blind guy than anyone in the history of sucking! I was truly terrible. I could not have been more confusing or insensitive than I was! Thankfully, it wasn't embarrassing to my wife, who mostly just wanted to laugh at me, but I left wondering just how much worse I made this guy's life! He was probably totally relieved that I left.

I wondered at the spiritual applications of this episode. How futile was it to try to lead a man who does not have a sense that I possess. I can see. I use my eyes all of the time to lead me. To a man without that sense, it's useless for me to attempt to lead him the way I myself might find anything. I wonder how often Christians do the same thing, with their Christianese or the superimposition of their law of morality. A non-Christian does not understand the vernacular and has no reason to follow the law of God. In fact, for a person outside of a covenant relationship to Christ, I would question their sanity for wanting to! To do so would make no sense at all.

I feel that while this is a bit of a stretch spiritually, I do feel that this episode reminds me of the fact that I cannot just want to help someone. I need to have the inclination and then have the wisdom to ask the Lord to quicken me to ways that might be effective in attaining that goal. Too often, men and women are stymied by a desire that is not backed by wisdom. The next time, I'll ask the Lord's help and listen to the blind man. I might just serve him better, instead of serving my own need to help, a subtle difference.

If I could just learn to ask the unbelievers in my life, "How can I address you with respect and listen to what you need to learn about God without assuming that I can just use my resource to guide you along?" What do they need, what do I want to give and what is the difference?

Maybe that's the lesson.

Maybe I just need to leave the blind guy alone.

Maybe we should have stayed in our room!

In any event, I do pray that somehow that man, in later evaluation, realized that somebody cared for him and at least attempted to help him.

Maybe God will redeem that situation.

Maybe you'll laugh.

Maybe that's all it happened for.

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

1 comment:

Amy said...

That was a really cool story, and I love the stretch to the life application.
Last month I spent sometime with a blind girl, it reminded me how we can never know what it is like to be someone else. There are so many people in the world and we cannot expect ourselves to understand and relate to all of them - not our job. As a substitute teacher I have learned that over and over again - I will never fully understand what it is like to be someone else. It is amazing how much individuality there is in one classroom. I think I am rambling randomly (lol).