By Annie-Rose Keith
CONNECTING FAITH AND LIFE
The other day, I drove past a man in a blue polo shirt playing the piccolo on a street corner.
He balanced the case of this tiny instrument on the trash can directly parallel to the main entrance of Gerst Haus on Franklin Street here in Evansville. My toddler in the back seat didn’t notice this woodwind-yielding brother-in-Christ, but was more focused on his glazed-donut delicacies just purchased. I noticed it and, looking back, wished I would have pulled over and asked this brazen soul if he lost a bet (or whatever); but time was not on my side that morning, and we had to book it to daycare.
While I couldn’t make out any discernible tune, I was reminded of this class project a friend of mine was assigned in college. For her abnormal-psychology course, the class was assigned to do something that would cast them as a pariah of sorts. Essentially, they had to do something that would cause weird looks. Jillian played a game of Monopoly with herself in the middle of an Evansville Mall thoroughfare and even walked to the opposite side of the board when it was “the other Jillian’s” turn. Needless to say, she did not win the prize for best abnormal-psych project; but the level of discomfort experienced was notable. I hope the best for the man on the corner, who just wanted to play an arguably obscure instrument on a busy street corner on a beautiful Tuesday morning.
Was it just as lovely a morning when Jesus was baptized by John? John was the epitome of the piccolo player on the corner or the brave friend who played a board game on the floor of a Mall. Not caring about anyone’s opinion, John moved forward preparing the way for his cousin (while simultaneously commenting on said cousin’s shoe choices). In early episodes of “The Chosen,” we meet John after he’s been arrested; but prior to his incarceration, he’s presented in dialogue as someone who speaks the truth while simultaneously raising eyebrows.
Do you know the type? The kind of person who lives so fully alive in Christ (and sometimes bluntly truthful) that they make folks around them pause? Sometimes stirring feelings of discomfort? You sometimes see this with vowed religious, especially those in habit, in an area that’s relatively unfamiliar with such a witness. In a world where we’re comfortable in our shame, sin, guilt (etc.), the collective witness of those who have fully given themselves to Christ and His Church serves as a beacon of light to usher us into a true, fruitful and faithful relationship with the king of the universe – if we let them.
John the Baptist came ahead of Jesus, preparing hearts and minds towards salvation. Did he do this in the usual way? Absolutely not. Wearing camel-hair shirts and consuming locusts were not the norms in the ancient Near East. Did he get the attention of people around him, causing them to think a little further about their eternal reward? Yes, he did.
Unexpected experiences with saints of this ilk often trigger deeper thought in our hearts. They invite us into a magnificent tension that we (however cautiously) step into, allowing growth in ways we could have never fathomed. Tension causes growth and we can’t come into this tension – this period of scales and beams removing themselves from our eyes (by the grace of God) – by ourselves. We need witnesses like John the Baptist, a piccolo guy of sorts, to help us expand our story of salvation – however many weird looks we get along the way!
Who’s the person that inspires you in your walk with Christ? Are they okay with getting weird looks from passersby? I urge you, dear friends, to sift out that witness for you.