I am low today. I don’t understand things very well. I don’t understand people very well and because I am a people, I don’t understand myself. It means I can’t cary the burden. I can’t cary the burden of Being. I am no atlas. Yet it is from this low vantage point, I have learned that looking up just requires opening my eyes.
The lowering of the paralyzed man on his mat is more than a story of four men doing the right thing. It is the story of how to go again. How to get moving again. How to get unstuck. I am stuck. Which is not very different than saying that I am afraid. Paralysis grows over a lifetime. The byproduct of an ego constantly exposed to the unknown—with its withering glare—its slithering, changing nature—with its ever rotating swords of flame. I close my eyes to it. I lay hand in hand with sleep and death. Fight or flight?… I choose neither. I choose paralysis. There is a viper far below what I know. In my lowness, I feel it—I freeze—I petrify. The world I cannot see is precipice and pit. Don’t move. But in that spirit world, in that divided kingdom, I am Lazarus entombed. I am the paralytic. I can not find my way in to forgiveness—to salvation—to healing—to moving again. I can not lift a finger. I hear the riot within. Who can bear up? How to get in when I can no longer move? I need the shipmates of Jonah, I need the hands of Mother, I need balaam’s donkey, I need that which listens to a voice I can no longer hear, I need that which carries me—flawed and flogged as I am—flawlessly, faithfully—to my destiny. My errors, my near-misses, draw me to the face of the Son of Man. Can I change? Can I actually walk again? A portal opens to the unknown. I am lowered down. The four men—the shipmates of Jonah—look down with concern as I sink: Will he make it? I must go within. In humiliation. In trust I descend. Servants of Mother, donkey, body, nature, flesh, material world, ship and shipmates—your job is done. I thank you for your service but I am no longer your burden. I have hit bottom. It is the one who is sick who must face the healer.
There I lay—paralyzed—wretchedly immobile—finally and utterly in between my reason—my pharisees— and the One who says, “Trust.” Exposed for all in Galilee to see. In the depths of who I am, my life is laid down. In the face of Truth, yet still under the mocking glare of “another reasonable argument”—I trust. I have so much to be forgiven. I have so many I need to love. Change begins. I feel the heaviness drain away. Lightness in my limbs. My strength is returning. I can move. For the first time since I was struck with this deadly palsy, I can move. To move is to live. To stand up is victory. I can pick up this mat I made so long ago. I can once again carry the burden of Being and with the joy of salvation, go home.
Some meet Jesus with arguments through the front door. To trap him. To surround Him with reasonable arguments. Determined to hide one miracle inside of all that reason. To make sure He understands all the laws of physics. Then be quiet you! I’ll do the rest.
Others meet Jesus with expectations through the side door. Excited to see something new, but certainly not strange.
But the only person who truly meets Jesus, meets Him though brokenness, blindness, sickness and death, while grabbing at hems, in the lowest places, in not understanding—meets him outside of expectation and rational arguments—neither through front door or side door—but beyond all reason, from outside and lowered down—helpless and paralyzed.
And the most difficult thing--the strangest thing--for everyone to understand except the man who can't move-is that forgiveness of sins is the same as standing up and going home.