Posted by: Dan | October 30, 2004

Sacramental (and Incarnational) Living

I miss my kids. I miss the street-kids from Toronto. True sometimes they could be nasty, sometimes they actually scared the hell out of me, but mostly they weren’t like that, and I don’t blame them for the times they were. I wonder what I would be like if I was in their situations. Mostly though they were just like kids. Maybe more broken than most but, more often than not, more beautiful as well. Every now and again I wonder about the connection between those two, between brokenness and beauty… I loved those kids.

People who have never been loved – not in a true way, not a way where they are loved for who they, not for something they can offer – are often quite puzzled by it. They don’t trust it at first. “No, that’s too good to be true. There’s gotta be a catch somewhere.” So they feel me out, they come at me from different angles, sometimes they offer me all the things they’re used to offering when someone treats them that way. “This person shows love to me… it must mean that he wants me.” But they keep coming back. They can’t escape it. It’s too intriguing, too strong for them to escape… too much like something they never imagined possible. So they come back. Love is a powerful thing.

Yet as the relationship deepens and they start to realise the nature of my love for them other thoughts start running through their minds. This time its related to shame, to guilt, to self-worth. “No, I’m not what this person sees me as. No, I am not lovable. I don’t deserve this. I deserve the hatred, the shame, the hurt… not this.” And so little by little I will hear more of their stories. “Listen man, I’m not like that, I’ve done all sorts of shit you don’t know about.” But I just keep loving them. “Sure, you’ve done all that, but that’s not what defines you. The way I see you… that’s closer to who you really are.” And so it goes on, until eventually they tell you everything. Not only about their past but about what they did last weekend, what happened last night. Of course I just keep loving them. Really it’s not that hard. They’re beautiful kids… and really they never had a chance.

And I’ve realised something. It’s the sacrament of confession and absolution that’s going on here. The words are all different, nobody’s explicitly asking for forgiveness and I’m not explicitly offering it but that’s what’s happening.

By loving these kids, by accepting these kids as who they are, even in the midst of everything that’s going on, I am manifesting God’s love for them and providing them with a glimpse of what they will one day fully encounter. The fact that I love and accept them is the first proof that God does too. I embody the forgiveness of sins by loving them and suffering with them. By laughing with them and crying with them.

You see, a lot of these kids never make it out. A lot of these kids die. They’re murdered, they overdose, they commit suicide. A lot of these kids are so broken they just never heal. A lot of these kids die without any sense of knowing God. “Yeah sure, I used to pray, but that didn’t stop anything that was happening to me. Maybe God’s out there, maybe not… I just know God doesn’t do anything for me.” Yet I am convinced that, when the time comes for God to make all things new, these kids will be welcomed home. You see, they do know God they just don’t realise it. The love inside of me that drew them to me, that made them love me, that was God. On that day they’ll realise, “Holy shit! I do know God. I met God in Dan.” And then they’ll probably look embarrassed that they just swore in front of God but God will just laugh and say, “Hey, watch your fucking mouth you little shit.” And we’ll all be laughing too hard to notice that we’re crying until we realise God has gone by and wiped all our tears dry.

Maranatha. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Come quickly.

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Responses

  1. I love what you wrote. It’s beautiful and true. From anyone else some of your words, about love and sharing it with others the way you do, would seem prideful …but coming from you, I just know it truly is God’s love working in and through you. I know He has used you to touch the lives of many…more than I realized, and even more than you have realized. We miss you Dan.

    Cheryl

  2. Cheryl!!
    I was wondering when you were going to comment. Thanks so much for your kind words. I also miss the both of you.

    After I posted this I thought that maybe I should change all the first person references to second person or first person plural so it didn’t sound like I was boasting. But then I got lazy… Plus I think this entry isn’t really about me but about God’s love working through me. It’s not something I’m taking credit for, it’s something that I rejoice that I get to participate in.

  3. aah dan. i love ya man. you certainly inspire me. and my wife. she wants to name our first kid after you.

  4. It’s all part of my master plan. Now that I’m running out of wedding parties to be in I’m looking to have all my friends (and brothers) name their kids after me.

  5. What the stink! Melissa and I were going to name our first kid after you! Copycats. Abe

  6. I named my roll of Charmin Ultra after you.

    Josh.

  7. Inspiring. Gives me a new perspective on the dynamic possibilities that a relationship with God could entail.

    And if I heard God say that, well I wouldn’t be able to stop laughing either!!!

  8. Dan,
    Powerful thoughts. Made my skin do funny tingly things. Very funny and real. Keep speaking the truth. keep it real. No bullshit! People are listening.
    Dion

  9. Thanks for the kind words… but I think the funny tingly feeling on your skin is the result of shaving… you may not realise this since I don’t think you’ve shaved in you life. :)

    Seriously though, such words coming from you, mean a lot to me.


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