I've been mentoring a student at my school recently. Nothing big. Just having lunch together once a week, chatting, getting to know one another, and working on writing skills a bit here and there.
Today, I saw this student in the hall, and he asked me if I'd like a piece of gum. My first reaction was to say no, to tell him to save the gum for one of his friends, but he offered it with such kindness that I just couldn't turn it down. So we walked down the hallway sharing a fun experience--sour purple gum. And I could see that he was proud of himself for creating that moment.
There is such power in just entering into experiences with other people. I was bowled over a little bit today when I opened my "Daily Orthodox scripture reading" e-mail to find:
At that time, Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. And there was a man named Zacchaios; he was a chief collector, and rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not, on account of the crowd, because he was small of stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaios, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today." So he made haste and came down, and received him joyfully. And when they saw it they all murmured, "He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner." And Zacchaios stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have defrauded any one of anything, I restore it fourfold." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost."
I hate to admit it, but I'm often like the murmurers in this story, trying to stay in a safe little bubble and not associate with people who make me uncomfortable. Not Jesus, though. He not only associated with a sinner--He went and hung out with the sinner at the sinner's house, and ate the sinner's food.
I'm trying harder to stop the murmuring, to seek out the outcasts in Sycamore trees, to enter into their lives, to share in their experiences, and to hopefully make a small change here and there.