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Some years ago, a friend of my family named Jerry Parr died. No, it was not Secret Service agent Jerry Parr who helped save Ronald Reagan’s life after an assassination attempt. The Jerry I knew was a Houston painter who had lost his sight and became friends with my father, who visited weekly to read books aloud and to chat.
Jerry had worked in sign painting prior to his blindness. Privately, he exercised great creative talent. Shortly before he died, he gifted this print of one of his paintings to my dad.
It is a depiction of the Biblical “Woman at the Well” story. The woman is a Samaritan. Her people were at odds with Jews like Jesus. She is also a publicly reviled sinner. She comes alone to the well because adulterers were not welcome to draw water at the usual time, when all the town’s women would gather there.
Jesus speaks to her as He would to a fellow Jew in good standing. He does not avoid mention of her adultery. Nor does He focus on it. He simply speaks truth and shows interest in her, offering her what He can.
The painting reminds me that anger and revulsion, though often justified, are insufficient responses to people who flaunt our differences and openly live in defiance of what we know to be good and true. All people matter. The most wayward of sheep require the most attention; not for merit but for hope of reunion.
We Christians are called to love our enemies. Love begins as interest. Before we can know someone, we must want to know that person and make an effort.
There is much these days to antagonize us; many reasons for anger and dismay. Take a breath. Pray. Be patient. Hope for harmony begins with conversation. If someone isn’t ready to listen, move on. But conversations with the lost, the blind, and the broken are how we restore society.Published in