When I took my sons out to Georgia three years ago, my uncle led the way up the highway to his boat house. He pulled over at a wilderness station, and as I dropped down from the driver’s seat of his VW bus, I was immediately ravished by the lush exuberance of the woods. He made his way into the station for some purpose, my sons following, but I stayed in communion with the sense of life that had become so desicated in Southern California. Eventually, he came out and said, “You know, there’s an exclusive resort on the other side of the hill.”
I don’t know why, but I thought of that when my son started talking about Jimmy Carter. Since Mr. Carter’s illness was made public, I have had this urge to go out to Plains and sit in on his Sunday school. When I shared that with Greg, he said “Well, maybe you should.”
A couple of Saturdays back, as I was puttering around the house in the morning, I found myself visualizing what would happen in that event, finding myself guided into a role as interpreter of a passage of scripture. As is perhaps obvious from my writing here, it’s hard for me to couple my experience of life to the world of daily affairs. So I fumbled around with big picture issues – meaning of life and process of Christ abstractions – until I finally struck on “You know, what I really want to do is to celebrate you, and the contributions you have made to society.”
I haven’t gone out to price travel to Plains – I’ve been distracted by other issues. But it keeps on popping up, and became particularly pointed this morning. I found myself standing in a long line outside of the church, and realized that I didn’t actually need to be in the class. I went to the door and introduced myself to the Secret Service agent, saying that I just wanted to offer Mr. Carter my blessing.
So I was ushered into a waiting room. He sat calmly in a chair. I walked up and placed my hands on his shoulders, and then on his scalp, trying to feel the shape of the wound that he carried. A chair appeared behind me, so I sat to embrace him gently, rubbing my hand in circles on his back over his heart. As I laid my left temple against his, I felt this shaft of anger and fear piercing his mind – the anger and fear of those that had fought to sustain control against the influence of the tolerance and caring that Mr. Carter manifests so consistently.
I moved my hand so that my fingers interrupted the painful flow, and sent healing behind it. With the pressure relieved, his grace bloomed outwards into the conduit, relieving fear and pain as it went.
He was eager to leave at that point, but I held him still. “I want them to see your radiance,” I explained. I pressed our hearts more firmly together, and arched as the power of Christ filled him with joy. As he took the floor, I watched in the doorway as the gathering stared in awe.