Day 10. Businessman
…Many other events have transpired in the last few days. So many that it’s sometimes difficult to process everything, even more so to describe. In view of this continuing process, this specific post doesn’t describe our journey itinerary but rather creates a snapshot of our journey experience…
A businessman sits casually across from his guest, confident words packaged neatly in a thin plastic coating. Leaning forward, elbows resting on knees, his posture mirrors his manner, engaging yet demanding. He talks too much.
He looks and sounds like the typical middle-aged, American businessman, meeting a few potential clients in the most Western coffee shop we’ve seen. I feel out of place here.
Smooth words puff like unwelcomed smoke from an unwelcomed smoker…evident in the juxtaposition of his own posture to his guest’s, back pressed against her chair across the table, slouched. She brightens noticeably at the joining of another guest, a relieving pause from the seller’s pitch. A sense of rescue accompanies her soft kiss on his cheek.
I couldn’t hear very well and honestly didn’t mean to listen or notice, only his vice bumped into me, like a clumsy passerby on a crowded street, above the festive background music and warm chatter. And in all fairness, I don’t know him or anything about him. Only I couldn’t help feel a sense of discomfort at his crowding words and polished agreement…just too quick to incorporate his guests’ remark into his continuing pitch. Couldn’t help but feel on guard against his shrewd smile. Maybe you’ve felt it when it seems that friendliness is but a thin, crackled mask for the coming sale. There is a hearing that precedes, transcends sound.
As the pitch seemed to fall on wet kindling, reluctant responses gave way to rambling conversation. Again, I couldn’t and didn’t particularly care to hear, but his volume continued to take up more than his share of table space. Part of me wondered if he wouldn’t soon turn to me and try to sell something…
Trying to distance myself from their chatting, one question lifted my head and pulled me in, “so how old’s your son?” one of the guests asks. Maybe it wasn’t even the question so much as the response that captured my attention.
…For once, silence. A struggling face, “…maybe seven or eight…six…” And the conversation rambles on. But I’m completely astounded, left in disbelief. Incredulous. Maybe I heard the question wrong. A deep unsettledness says maybe I didn’t.
Disgust washed by deep sadness follows his answer. How easy it is to see how obviously he’s missed it, traded once passionate, now faded family life to be wed to a corporate ladder…relationship with a son exchanged for contacts in the next big deal. How very obvious and so deeply saddening. The warmth of a family for another dollar. Real love and meaning for facades of contentedness and fleeting comfort. Wholeness for emptiness.
So painfully clear.
…Another wealthy man, young, approaches Jesus and asks what he has to do to gain eternal life.
Responding to Jesus’ quote of several ancient commandments, the young man tells that he has been faithful to these. Perhaps he’s comforted and is left with confidence. Astonishingly, Jesus continues.
Boasting smiles washing from the young man’s face. “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor. Then come follow me.” Saddened, the wealthy young man turns and fades into the gathering crowd. (paraphrase, Luke 18)
Wholeness for emptiness.
Though I’m middle-class in my comfortable society, as a member of the world’s community, I am unimaginably wealthy. So wealthy that I flush clean water down my toilet and throw away food I don’t enjoy. And yes, I’m asking, struggling, trying, but this process sometimes reveals a reluctance. Could I sell everything if asked? Am I asked, called, pleaded to sell everything? Does the way of Jesus counter
How can it not?
Wholeness for emptiness. How easy it is to see the speck in another.
Patrick/ an awakening rich young man