Yes,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
This was the witty reaction of a woman who wanted…needed her daughter healed.
It was a gutsy–a ballsy (yes I said ballsy)–reaction too. Because she was saying to this Jesus. A man everyone knew as a healer like none other. So I’d expect her to be kind, humble, begging. But instead she was lit with fire. I think desperation does that to us.
She was desperate.
The word-for-word story is here, but here’s my version:
Jesus was worn out from work and withdrew for rest. A woman (the ballsy one) came to him and began to “ekrazen” the Greek word for “scream”. (See I told you she was ballsy). She was asking for mercy and help for her very sick and mentally ill daughter. Jesus did not answer a word. Yikes — this would be my clue to take off. But the woman laments on-and-on, so much so that the disciples urged Jesus to make her go away.
Eventually Jesus tells her, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.” WAIT! WHAT? Did he just tell her that healing was only good for the Jews, but as for the rest of the riff-raff, we’d have to take sloppy seconds? Crumbs?
Typically this would send me into a rage. But this is when the woman had some sort of amazing wisdom and wit that caught Jesus’ ear when she replied, “Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
At that point Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed that day.
A MORE MODERN TWIST
This Christmas I spent a small portion of my day visiting someone at the hospital. Not what I intended to do, but it’s what came my way. And because I had the gift of “free” time–and this person held a place in my heart–I used it to visit.
As I left the hospital, admiring all the art displays, I noticed a sign that read “Meditation Room.” The arrow pointed in the opposite direction of where I was heading–home. But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go. After all, I could be a tiny bit late to a party if need be.
When I entered the room the dichotomy of two things hit me.
1) the sound of pooling water, soft diffused light, and tranquil green and aqua colors
2) a flood of emotions.
If rooms can hold energy and sorrow and desperation–I could feel it in there.
I sat down and let my tears flow. For the person I visited, their family, the filled beds at the hospital, the people who come to this room in great need. And it was Christmas. None of it was fair or right. And yet, this is how it is for so many.
After clearing my head I noticed a pamphlet on the chair next to me with a serene Buddha on the front that read “A Collection of Buddhist Prayers.” I opened it and read beautiful words:
Let your love flow outward through the whole universe.
To its full height, depth, and broad extent.
Then as you stand or walk, sit or lie down,
As long as you are awake strive for this with a one pointed mind.
Your life will bring heaven to earth.
I struggled to remain composed. These words were so beautiful. So…Jesusy. That’s when I noticed all the pamphlets representing so many faiths: Buddhist, Islamic, Jewish, Native American, Hindu, and Christian Prayers.
I took one of each. Because all of them read like beautiful poetry. Prayerful pleas, begging, crying, ekrazen-ing. The children…and the dogs.
And some days I’m not so sure who is who anymore. Who are the children? Who are the dogs? And what the heck was going on in that story!?!
As I sat there these things came to me. All I know, is that:
• I have my dog-days. Who am I to judge?
• Everyone who comes to that room is screaming for healing,
• …for help,
• …for anything…even crumbs.
• Jesus was willing–went out of his way–to talk to anyone.
• Anyone includes different genders, sexual orientations, race, religions.
• It includes those “we” consider…”dogs.”
CRUMBS FOR DOGS, WHAT IT MEANS
I’ll be honest, I don’t have a good wrap up. But I have some hope and maybe a clue as to what this puzzling story means: God must hear us all. Some will try to twist things to say He only hears from “His Children.” But that has never felt like what the heart of a Creator would do.
And while Jesus still said a disturbing thing…compassion struck in hearing this woman who was not considered “worthy” of the finest healing. Such a human experience–compassion at the flesh level.
So yes, there is a God listening. To you. To me. To everyone who came and will come into the Meditation Room in the hospital.
So please, don’t give up. Not on you. Not on someone else.
Cry, beg, ekrazen-scream. Get ballsy, God can take it. Clearly. Read beautiful words that bring an element of the sacred within. Sit, meditate, connect with what we barely understand. Because even dogs, you and me, get crumbs. We get love. We get second chances. We are shown mercy that gives us the hope we so desperately need.
Peace and Joy and Hope my friends. I’ll see ya next year (with some changes I think you’ll like).