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May We Be Able to Fall

Deb Heimel, Pastoral CouncilDeb Heimel, Pastoral Council Member
October 7, 2022

In the Gospel this week, ten men with leprosy call out to Jesus. Jesus tells them to go show themselves to the priests. They head down the road and somewhere along the way, they discover they are cleansed. Their skin has cleared. Nine of them keep going to the priests. Episcopal priest Barbara Brown Taylor has written beautifully on this text, in which she argues that those nine lepers aren’t necessarily the jerks we think they are. They were simply following instructions and doing what they were supposed to be doing. When we meet the ten, they were keeping the rules; they were staying at a distance. It makes sense that they will continue to follow Jesus’ instructions and continue on to the priests. Maybe as they walked and noticed their skin clearing, they were also amazed and grateful but didn’t know what to do with the emotions they felt in their heart. Taylor writes, “Nine behaved like good lepers, good Jews; only one, a double loser, behaved like a man in love.” (Taylor, Barbara Brown. “The Tenth Leper” in The Preaching Life. Boston: Cowley Publications, 1993.) Many of us know how to be obedient but struggle to live in love; we are unable to let ourselves be overwhelmed by emotion.

I’ve started running in the mornings. Well, some mornings. And sometimes running. I don’t like running and I don’t like working out in the morning. But I love watching the sunrise and being outside in the beauty of dawn so I have switched my morning prayer routine and instead of sitting quietly on my couch, I sweat and listen to Christian music in my headphones.

Sometimes I run and picture Jesus running with me. Prayer is a morning chat while jogging with a good friend. I like to imagine a smart-alecky Jesus running with me and saying “it’s ok to walk you know; I walked everywhere.”

Sometimes I run and pray for people in my life struggling with cancer, depression, exhaustion, grief. So much grief. I imagine sitting next to them and holding them tight. And then I imagine them running with me and beaming love at me. Friends and family, alive or dead, join me on my run and I feel buoyed and my heart is full.

Recently I have been running and praying with the album Alive and Breathing by Matt Maher. As I come to the end of the run, I often find the track “Run to the Father” and listen to Maher sing “I run to the Father, I fall into grace.” I used to stop running when my stamina gave out but recently I keep having to stop because I am crying too hard to breathe. It is a beautiful experience to allow myself to stop what I am doing and just feel. The love I feel for my running buddies – friends, family, Jesus – gets to be too much and it comes out as tears.

I want to be the Samaritan falling at Jesus’ feet. Not just saying thank you, but truly falling at His feet.