Thursday, April 7, 2011

Finding Faith At The Dump

The car was in reverse and my foot was on the gas. I was in a hurry; I had just emptied trash cans and had even cleaned the loose trash out of the car.

As I was pulling out, the sunlight landed on the railing, playing tricks on my eyes. "That almost looks like a cross," I thought, seeing the fuzzy outline of a crucifix by the dumpster. "No..." I thought that with my mind so much on Lent ,I was surely seeing things. I pulled back into the lot and stopped the car.

I walked over to the dumpster and there He was...broken, crumbling, metal jutting out- thoughtfully laid out by someone on a wooden railing. There was something in the heart of the person who brought this maimed crucifix to the dump;  there is something  inherently wrong about throwing away even an image of Jesus, no matter how disfigured, no matter how disintegrated.

I didn't know what I could do with this broken crucifix, but I knew I couldn't leave it by the dump. Surely someone would come along and carelessly toss it in. I picked it up, and the pieces of plaster sifted through my hands.

I came home and placed it on the table...just laid it out, parts pieced together. All the children were curious. They couldn't understand what Jesus was doing down at the dump. Who would put Him there?

And I thought about that. "Who would put Jesus at the dump?" Don't I put Jesus at the dump on a regular basis? I see the glory, the Easter Resurrection, the hope of Heaven...but do I embrace the suffering and disfigured Christ on the cross? Do I look on the true horror and ugliness, the price of my salvation? Or do I cast it off, a crucifix at the dump. Like the person who laid the cross next to the dumpster, I can't bring myself to completely dismiss Jesus' suffering; I conveniently lay it aside, hoping to not have to deal with that cross, that pain.

Sam instinctively places fingers in "wounds," and I am Thomas. Thomas, the questioning disciple. Thomas, who had to feel the wounds to believe. Thomas, whose faith was only satisfied in the flesh and blood. Sometimes the only way to find the fullness of faith is to wrap ourselves around those very wounds, touching the flesh every day, embracing the pain each moment.

"No pain, no gain. No cross, no crown. No Gall, no glory."
~ William Penn

And God, in His abundant mercy, is so patient with us. Every day He teaches us and nurtures faith in our souls, if we will only follow. I keep my crucifix on the table. It will remain there until Easter, a constant reminder of what Jesus did for me, for you, for humanity. Christ is everywhere and can be found in all places- even at a roadside dumpster.