specificity.

Sacredness requires specificity. The grand esoteric themes of theology have their place, but love takes root in those specific moments when we voluntarily and intentionally enter one another’s pain. “God so loved the world” makes sense when love has a name and is lying in the manger. The Incarnation (big theological concept) comes alive in the person of Jesus, God with us in all our off-the-rackness, all our struggles, in all our, well, lives.

In the specific person of Jesus, God says, “Me, too” in a way that had not been said before. The stories in the gospels are full of specifics, Jesus making particular movements, though not spectacular ones, to offer compassion and healing. He stopped when the woman with the hemorrhage touched his coat. He asked Zacchaeus if he could come over to the house. He wrote in the sand to move the focus off the adulterous woman for at least a moment. He offered Peter breakfast.Milton Brasher-Cunningham (From Keeping the Feast, which I loved, and which I will probably tell you about later)

There is a 6th grade boy who visits me every day. Do you have any comic books? I show him what I have and he shakes his head. I read those already. It’s hard, I say, to keep comic books checked in. Everyone wants them.

My elementary school library was filled with comics. I wish you had some more.

I am not proud that what he said irritated me. I wish I had more, too. I wish I always had what the students want. Sometimes it feels that all 700 of them want the same five books and no matter what I do, I can’t meet the need.

That afternoon, I found a few comic books in the book return. Instead of shelving them, I left them on my desk and emailed his teacher to send him down. I tend to be a little bit more hands off when it comes to library management. I don’t do holds or save books for students. But I put these aside for him, thinking about the specificity of the Incarnation, about being present with what I have. When he came to see me at the end of the day, I offered them to him. An apology, a peace offering. Something to read.

I’ll take all three, he said.

It was a holy moment.

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5 Comments

  1. Terry Bernardini

    Lovely.

    Posted 12/4/2012 at | Permalink
  2. Barbi

    It WAS a holy moment.

    Posted 12/5/2012 at | Permalink
  3. Kari, what’s the name of your school? I know you wouldn’t want to post it here, so if you’d email it to me, I’d appreciate it. I’m mulling an idea…

    Posted 12/6/2012 at | Permalink
  4. i love the precision and tenderness with which you told this story. i can hear your heart for this boy. how blessed he is to know you.

    Posted 12/6/2012 at | Permalink
  5. Oh, thank you for going out of your way! I think we rarely regret really bothering. Merry Christmas, Friend.

    Posted 12/8/2012 at | Permalink

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