Monday, January 19, 2009

Dreams left and lost by the side of the road

Some time ago I was driving down the expressway and as I took my usual exit I noticed something up ahead just off to the side of the road. As I came closer I saw it was a small, inexpensive looking "jewelry" box which had once been in the shape of a wooden treasure chest. It appeared to have fallen from someone's vehicle and most of its contents were strewn in a careless pattern all around it. As I was in a hurry, to go no where of significance, I passed it off as someone else's misfortune and never stopped to see if there was any type of identification which should allow it to be returned to its rightful owner. That was strike number one. The next day, I passed the same scene but it looked a little worse for the wear, having been out in the elements along side a busy high way, but, again, I was too busy to stop. Strike two. Finally after several days of coming and going, I no longer noticed the box and its contents. Eventually it was gone. Strike three, I'm out!
I didn't care about possessing the contents, regardless of how valuable any one of the trinkets might have actually been. They really didn't appear to have much significant value, and in my quick glances I continued to shrug them off as mere worthlessness on the side of the road. But there's something about this little box that I can't get off my mind. I'm guessing it probably belonged to some young woman who had collected each item, a piece at a time, as gifts or perhaps "investments". When they adorned the owner's ear lobes, neck, wrists or fingers they created an illusion of grandeur, or a step up above and out of the ordinary. In other words they transported the owner to a temporary land of dreams where she, no doubt, felt important, accepted, noticed and in the end perhaps valued and loved because of something she possessed and the way she enhanced herself.
Too often, now, I wonder how many times I've passed similar opportunities in life and never stopped to help someone, such as in the Biblical story of the good Samaritan? (Luke 10:30-37)
The treasure chest, in my scenario, represents the possessions or dreams of the "certain man" or probably young woman in this case. I, unfortunately, became as the priest who first saw the dreams, but didn't bother to pursue them on behalf of the dispossessed. Next time, I became as the Levite, when I slowed down, and took a closer look, but once again did nothing and passed on by. Finally, as in the Biblical passage, an unknown person(s) came by and the treasure chest of hopes and dreams was picked up and taken away. Perhaps my analogy is not in perfect keeping with the scripture, but my intent is to show a missed opportunity for service in anonymity.
Did you ever notice that in the 8 verses telling this story, in the Bible, not once is a single name given? At least 2 of the 4 people mentioned are Jews, or "religious people", who would normally be thought of as ready, willing and able to give help and support to a wounded person. Ironically, the Bible says the wounded person was "stripped of his raiment, wounded and left half dead" by the side of the road. Without his clothing, he became unidentifiable. Today we couldn't tell if he, or she, was a banker because his Armani suit and Rolex was missing. Could he, or she, have been a doctor or nurse? Who knows, without their scrubs and missing stethoscopes? Perhaps a professional pilot, now missing the dark uniform with its impressive stripes upon the sleeves. All items of identification. All missing; hence leaving the person unidentifiable, half dead and worst of all, alone.
The Middle Eastern area in which this account takes place is one between Jerusalem and Jericho. This is a 17 mile distance noted as a treacherous"short cut" trade route between the two cities. (Ironically, that's about the same distance I was traveling) The wounded man was more than likely carrying an assortment of goods to be traded and/or sold in the markets of Jericho. Now, he was penniless, near death and naked. Without a dream, how often have I found myself feeling much the same as this man?
But an anonymous benefactor showed up on the scene and cared for this wounded individual, binding up his wounds, (gathering up what's left of value in his life), pouring in oil and wine, (the oil being a healing balm and the wine an antiseptic), providing him safe transportation and caring for him. He gave the wounded, unidentifiable man hope. Perhaps the dreams and possessions originally lost to the thieves were gone for ever, but at least there was hope and more importantly the benefactor promised to return to repay the inn keeper for anything needed above and beyond in the care of the wounded man.
Isn't it interesting that the benefactor, is anonymous. He knows who he is. He knows he has wealth, as he immediately paid the inn keeper in advance with a promise for full restitution of anything else needed. He had power, because he told the inn keeper "take care of him." But, still he remains anonymous. I like it. When we know who we are, it's unimportant that anyone else know our names. When we identify with the One "from whom all blessings flow" our providence is as assured as was the wounded man, and in the end our dreams are not really left and lost by the side of the road, but actually replaced with newer more important and certainly more valuable experiences because of the generosity of One who cared more for us and our futures.
Hopefully, the owner of the missing treasure chest styled jewelry box has by now started recollecting more valuable items - stars in her crown...

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