I went to a conference in San Diego last week, and the weirdest thing happened. I got motivated by a motivational speaker. I’m serious. This guy had me whipped into a froth. He took me down to Chinatown, brought me to Jesus, and carried me home. He is a Jesuit, which based on what I saw, means he is a practitioner of his preaching. He said a lot of things, many of them not easily forgotten, but one on my mind this morning is, “God is the person standing in front of you.” He relayed that message second-hand from some centenarian theologian and for me that question is now closed.
I tried to put it into practice yesterday, when a young woman jumped out of a car at an intersection as I was walking by. She was crying, truly sobbing, and as this thought was on my mind I thought, “Oh look, here comes God.” I asked her if she was okay and it startled her, but she stopped and looked at me back, perhaps seeing God also, or just a tired, bald white man.
“Do you want to talk about it?” I asked. “No.” She said, “I just want to go home.” “Okay, I can call for a cab if you like, and we can get you home.”
“I’m from Jacksonville.” She said, which is about a $450 cab ride from Tallahassee. “Oh, I don’t think I can get you to Jacksonville.” I said, in a new, close-hearted voice. The thought that this was a scam, and I was the mark, fleeted through my mind.
“Oh, I can’t get you to Jacksonville.” I told her. Sometimes God asks too much you know? And just that quick it was over.
“I have money.” She said defensively, “I just don’t feel like being in this town anymore.” She wasn’t stupid. She caught my little judgmental tone.
And just like that I ceased to be God standing in front of her and became my own flawed self. Being God is tough!
The heart is after all, just a muscle, and it needs to be exercised.
(Click the Homeboy Industries logo to hear from Father Boyle.)