It's been almost a month now. A Month filled with the most unlikely, interesting, thought provoking meetings.
I met a woman in the Middle East Pushing for women's rights in the region.
I met a President from a small "stan" country looking for help becoming a NATO member from the American Congress.
I met a Minister of Education interested in helping to create new ways of teaching students in his home country.
I met an eastern european banker looking to spread his bank's reach to America.
I met a student in New York who courageously came out of the closet and told his school he's gay.
I met a Marxist who lives in Texas. (I know..how does that happen?)
I met an Orthodox Jew married to a Ukrainian woman who both taught me how to welcome the Shabbat in a 15 minute reading of the Shama and various Torah scriptures.
For a month, I've been meeting all these people who have dramatically different family, cultural, and faith values than I do; but they also hold much of the same human-ness I have.
It's made me think deeply about how I see the world. It's caused a reflection of my soul about the way we connect with people, how we interact with who we interact with, why we choose to socialize with some while distancing ourselves from...well...THE OTHER.
The Other is a term I've learned this month from a wise Jordanian friend. We all have a tendency to surround ourselves with people who look like us, believe like us, have an education like us, make about as much money as we make, and they all give us a blanket feeling of safety. But when THE OTHER comes into our world, we don't know what to do.
When someone enters a sphere of influence that is 180 degrees different, or maybe entirely in opposition to our views, how do we respond? What is our play?
Some will run interference and try to avoid THE OTHER. Conflict is a place for the young to battle, and after a certain phase of life, it's just easier to keep THE OTHER at bay.
Some will run head to head and 'fight for the truth' they hold dear. They sense a threatening from THE OTHER that might change the way they live, who they see, or how they're seen. This posture tends to create battle lines where two are willing to fight to the death, often metaphorical, but maybe a case could be made for literal war here. We go and fight the other!!
And then there's a third way, the Way of Jesus.
Jesus, being made in the image of God, was constantly surrounded by THE OTHER. In fact, THE OTHER is everyone else. Imagine for a second how Jesus forewent His right to being the same with God, and came to live here on earth with...THE OTHER. He gave up the streets of gold, the angels singing His name, and the adoration of Heavenly Holiness to be with humanity.
Jesus' THE OTHER was:
The woman at the well
The man with a dying son
His friend Lazarus who died
The Jewish leaders of the day
The Roman Empire who ruled the land
The woman who touched his Garment
The leper who needed to be healed
The Disciples who constantly didn't understand
The people who walked away from the teaching of the God/Man
And he chose to live among them.
Today, I'm feeling quite humbled to follow Jesus who saw THE OTHER as someone who was worth getting to know, someone worth healing, and ultimately someone worth sacrificing for.
I want my life to be consumed with THE OTHER.
I want to love THE OTHER with a giant spirit.
Even when the airlines cancel my flight...
Or a publisher rejects a book...
Even when a blogger posts something negative...
Or when my family fights for no obvious reason...
I want to love THE OTHER in abundance today.