My recent back surgery and recovery have given me lots of opportunity to reflect and learn some lessons, or perhaps relearn some lessons. Some lessons shouldn’t be repeated in public but needed to be learned nonetheless. Here are some other thoughts.
My father honored me by taking me with him on a journey deep into the wilderness of Southwestern Oregon. My dad had a friend, Dan Tucker, who invited us to travel far into the back country and visit a gold mine.
For hours we bounced along primitive roadways, switch backing our way up one side of a mountain, through a pass, and then zig zagging down the other side. Eventually we came to the end of the road and stopped in to visit some wilderness mountain people who had made their home in that isolated location—hours from the nearest human being.
We parked our 4X4 truck and set out with back packs. By this time the sun had settled behind the mountains so we were left to hike in the dark. Dan was our guide and led the way. I was in the middle and my dad brought up the rear. The trail was narrow but not steep. We followed a creek upstream.
As the priest stood on the dock waiting for the ship that would start him on his journey home, he wrung his hands nervously. As he did so he looked down at his hand and noticed some mysterious white spots. There was numbness, too. Almost immediately he know what was happening to his body. He had contracted leprosy!
With that disease he knew he would not be allowed to board the ship. No one ever got off the island with leprosy. So he trudged back up the hill. As word spread across the island that Father Damien had leprosy people began to gather outside his little hut. They understood his pain, the fear, and the uncertainly about the future.
The following Sunday the priest found hundreds of people gathered at the chapel. He stood and spoke to them saying, “My fellow lepers….”(1)
There was another minister who came to a people that were sick and dying without hope. St. Paul wrote about Him saying this Man, “being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the very highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:6-11)