While consuming my daily dose of Buechner, as usual, I found myself with more to ponder about the very thing I might be hesitant to claim. I’ve been struggling (in my head) with some professional relationships, trying to sort out why things might seem more complicated than they really are. I didn’t imagine that the parable of the “Good Samaritan” might provide some insight. Buechner reimagines the players in the story as he says,
I prefer to think of the priest and the Levite as less than really bad, more just half blind…
So that let me off the hook a bit, maybe, I’m not really bad for continually wondering what I sometimes wonder; I’m just half blind. Mitch, my everyday minister, often, when his sermon revolves around a story in the bible, encourages us as listeners to find ourselves in or even in-between the characters. We do locate our lives in all kinds of stories we both read and hear. Other wise people, too, say that that is how we come to some understanding of the ancient stories when we find a bit of our own story there.
In the Good Samaritan parable, I most often identify—no—I am the priest and the Levite. I seem to come by quite a few people lately who have some kind of obvious pain. I do think of and even pray for them. Yet, I don’t actually tell them so or do anything that makes sure they are being cared for and I probably only notice some of the time.
Considering that the priest and Levite aren’t all bad, just half blind makes it easier for me to see my way past myself a little more clearly.
In the same way that Buechner calls the priest and Levite “less than really bad,” he understands that the Samaritan is “more than good.” He prefers
To think that the difference between the Samaritan and the other two was not just that he was more morally sensitive than they were but that he had, as they had not, the eye of a poet or a child or a saint—an eye that was able to look at the man in the ditch and see in all its extraordinary unexpectedness the truth itself, which was that at the deepest level of their being, he and that other one there were not entirely separate selves at all. Not really at all.
Beyond the extraordinary insight these words offer, the glimmer of myself in this version of the story is more difficult to hear. The “extraordinary unexpectedness” for me is that the person I am passing is not a stranger on the road but someone I see often, whom I have made “strange” because she doesn’t think or act or live like I do.
How do I develop that eye that sees more?