Sunday, December 21, 2008

Down and Out

Today . . .

I could barely read their tag . . . Minnesota . . . far north . . . they must have brought the cold with them . . . now they were down here, out where they didn't belong . . . down and out . . . "down on their luck" and definitely "out" in terms of my "up and in" neighborhood . . . down and out . . . I knew it by the car they were driving (they were parked in the middle of the driveway at an angle that looked as if the car had broken down) . . . I knew it by the shoes they wore, by their dirty, ragged clothes, by the woman's stringy hair hanging down; they looked like they were living out of their car . . . I could see only the man's feet down beneath the jalopy on the opposite side . . . I caught a glimpse of a sleepy child's head hanging down in the back seat . . . poor kid . . . down and out alright . . . my first thought was "they're probably migrant criminals" . . . poor kid . . . my suspicions intensified as the woman got up and came inside to ask the clerk for change . . . "I need change to make a call" . . . her voice was hoarse and harsh, further confirmation of a rough life . . . "You need change alright . . . can't even afford a cell phone" . . . Most certainly they were down and out . . . poor kid . . .

I have that problem, you see: a propensity to judge before love, a propensity to condescend, a propensity to distrust those who look down and out, to judge their motives, their history, the reasons for their beggarly appearance and coarse demeanor and to ask, "What are those down-and-outers doing here?" . . . poor kid . .

Yesterday . . .

three down-and-outers . . . husband, wife, and sleeping child . . . dirty from travel . . . no place to go, no place to stay . . . just that old barn . . . definitely not from around here . . . don't belong here . . . must be something wrong with them . . . must've brought the cold with them . . . what are they doing here, just down and out no doubt . . . poor kid . . . poor kid . . . "

Forever . . .

Down and Out . . . Down from Heaven, and Out in the Flesh, Down and Out to this down-and-out world so that real down-and-outers like me could be Up and In. . . . Poor Child . . . .

Poor Child of Unsearchable Riches . . .

"Unto you is born, this day, in the City of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord. . . For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that, though He was rich, for your sakes He became poor that you, through His poverty, might be made rich."

7 comments:

Shane said...

Excellent post from the avuncular aficionado.

I read that post and was convicted. My eyes and ears are under constant assault in life, especially at work. A frontal assaurt naturally leads to defense-works being erected. The most alluring line of defense is disdain for worldly things which, though good, often leads to condescension and pharisitical feelings of "I'm better than you." Often I find myself thinking, "thank you Lord for not making me like so and so." Instead of being the pious publican: "have mercy on me, a sinner."

How accepting would I have been of Mary and Joseph? Or of Jesus saying repeatedly to "repent." Sometimes I read the gospels and realize that if I heard Jesus say some of the things recorded therein I would recoil and assume He had it wrong. (I just got a chuckle, because if you think about it Arminianism is built on the premise that Jesus got it wrong a lot of the time.)

Anyway, thanks for the post.

Hippie Fringe said...

Hal,

Wonderful post. I always suspected you had a little beat poet in you. I too wrestle with my own perceptions of others and myself. I hate that thing in me too and also try to exercise icon replacement to keep my perceptions in check. Almost every action or thought I regret involves devaluing someone.

Hal Brunson said...

HF,

Give me a little insight on icon replacement . . . definition, etc.

Hippie Fringe said...

Sure, you've replaced people you may not necessarily view as honorable (down & outs and their poor kid) with icons you do view as honorable (Mary, Joseph & Jesus). I do the same thing (utilizing various icons) when I confront my own stereotypes or those presented by the media et al. Maybe icon substitution would be a more accurate description.

Hal Brunson said...

Thanks,

Do you know if that is a standard psychological or literary idea, or is that your coinage? In any case it's interesting.

By the way, Merry Christmas, and may God bless you.

Shane said...

HF, may I make a coinage suggestion on "icon replacement." If that's of your own making (the idea, not the word) you need something catchy so it will take off. I suggest avatarize or hagiophize. "Upon seeing the down and out family pull up in the jalopy, I was struck with feelings of contempt. So I took it upon myself to avatarize/hagiophize the image before me, seeing now Mary and Joseph."

Perhaps the "ize" suffix is too harsh. Hmmm.

Hippie Fringe said...

Hal,

I doubt it is a novel idea or that my coinage is any other than ignorance of a better term. We all know the concept: trade the iconic villain for the iconic hero (or vice versa) and the assumed virtues and motives are different. The pauper may be a prince; the man may be an angel; the angel may be a devil. What evils have been hidden by noble robes and what riches by peasant rags.

May God bless you and your family as well.

Hello Shane,

That would probably be a catchier phrase but I don't substitute the head or face one on another; I consider my regard for one as opposed to the other. I believe I may have met an angel once (he didn't exactly bear me good tidings) but I rebuked him because he was literally robed in tattered sheets. On the other hand, I know I have encountered devils clad by Armani.