It is snowing here in Birmingham, Alabama. That is cause for great joy among little ones, and varying
degrees of stress for bigger ones. The forecast calls for one to three inches of accumulation. A winter storm warning has been issued. Basically, the city is shut down.
The town of Rangeley, Maine is accustomed to an average of 121 inches of snow each year. Accumulation of one to three inches of snow is a disappointing dusting for Rangeley’s residents.
Having lived in many places in the United States and in Tokyo, I have heard folks snipe at the perspective of others who are from different parts of the country or the world. Rugged Rangeley folks might chuckle at Alabama’s snow-fearing wimps. People from Birmingham can’t understand why anyone would want to live in such God-forsaken country.
Our perspectives are shaped by our cultures, our climates, our family history, our personal experiences. What is ONE perspective among many, can easily become THE perspective. Judgment and the overlaying of our perspective onto another, prevents us from understanding and loving the “other.” It limits our experience of life. If we truly believe that all people are made in the image and likeness of God, it limits our experience of God.
Response to snow is an innocuous example of how we judge and exclude. When the stakes are higher the judgment can become dangerous. When we are open to listening to one who is different, with a willingness to be changed by the encounter, our perspective broadens.
Jesus knew about this when he walked through enemy territory in Samaria and chatted with a cast-out woman at a well. Despite the cultural taboos about Jews and Samaritans, and men speaking with women, Jesus took the woman seriously. He listened to her. She questioned him. Love pierced her and she could not help but run to tell her fellow Samaritans about the one whom she knew to be the Messiah. Jesus and the disciples stayed in Samaria for two days teaching, transforming, and being transformed.
Yesterday, inspiring leaders from the international mission program, Global Teams came for lunch at Saint Luke’s. At one point in the conversation we discussed the story of Jesus and the woman at the well. Kevin Higgs, a Christian man who has lived, and respectfully assimilated into Muslim countries for more than two decades, pointed out that for the two days when Jesus and his disciples stayed to teach in Samaria, they stayed in the homes of people whom their tradition taught them were unclean–filthy and offensive really.
Yet they stayed. And lives were forever changed, so changed that we continue to tell the story 2,000 years later. Let’s keep living that story.
Happy Snow Day!