There I was – flat on my back in the middle of a bike trail. Seconds before, my bike and I had suddenly parted ways, sending me flying through the air. However, I was not alone. Three young cyclists immediately stopped and sprang into action. Full of concern, one pulled out his little first aid pack, and all three set to work in practical and loving ways. Their natural compassion made a huge difference to me, and it was central to how I recovered from the injuries I sustained.
In pain, and feeling pretty much a mess, the one thought that really stayed with me was that these young people, though they did not know me at all, cared about me. We often refer to such individuals as good Samaritans.
In the loved Bible parable known as the Good Samaritan, Jesus was answering a question from a Jewish lawyer: “Who is my neighbour?” Jesus responded with an illustration. A man was travelling through some dangerous country, when he was set upon by thieves, robbed and left for dead. But his story does not dwell long on the man’s victimhood, the dangerous neighbourhood, or the people who passed him by. It does not dwell much on the man’s injuries either. What Jesus focused his parable on was the love of one man for someone who, in his society, was supposed to be his enemy.
If this story were published today, the main focus would probably be on the first part of the story – about man’s inhumanity – the thugs who beat the man, and the two who passed by and didn’t bother to help. Every day, headlines in most media outlets publicize evidence of the worst examples of human behaviour. Yet the focus in this parable is not the example of the violent men or the uncaring ones – but on the compassionate and helpful man. The story suggests that the Samaritan helped the injured man because it was simply in his nature to do so.
Jesus understood and taught that we are all children of one God who loves us unconditionally, irrespective of race or religion. His point was that, as such, we are all divinely programmed to love.
Those young people, who came to my rescue by the side of the road, although not my enemy, had no idea who I was. Yet, the unconditional love I felt from them touched me. I saw their innate compassion as an expression of divine Love, coming to me in a way that I needed right there and then.
My small accident seems insignificant in light of some of today’s big disasters and tragedies, but it showed me a way to pray that is relevant, no matter the size of the disaster we are facing. It taught me to focus, not on the story of my accident and its effects, but rather on the healing presence of divine Love. This perspective freed me from feeling a victim, or being rather too impressed by the whole situation. I was up and about again in a relatively quick period.
Rather than thinking we have to ‘try’ to love, we can acknowledge and act on our divinely programmed capacity to give and receive love. This introduces a whole different way of thinking about ourselves, and others. It also reveals glimpses of the very nature of God – as pure Love, ever present in whatever form we need.
This article was published in the Vancouver Sun Sept 21 2015 HERE