Someone worth listening to

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Who do you believe are the people best equipped to give insight and guidance in your life? I wonder if we’re all subconsciously drawn to listen to people who have managed to navigate life with the greatest degree of outward success, good fortune, and happiness. However, recently I’ve been wondering this: What if we have it all wrong? What if the people who have something meant for us are those we are least likely to accept it from?

Zenab recently shared with me that in her culture many of those with gifts of healing, wisdom, and insight are crippled, deformed, and broken people. It is because of their suffering that they have found something worth sharing with others. This is an excerpt from her story:

“Have you said your prayers lately?” Ratu’s words were crafted innocently, but stung nonetheless.

“God doesn’t exist. Not to me. I don’t believe it. If God exists then tell me why I am being put through all of this? Why? I don’t pray anymore. It doesn’t matter. Nothing matters.”

Ratu’s face softened and tightened at the same time, a flush of color washing over her cheeks and down her décolleté. I wished she would leave me alone with my misery. Her presence was only adding to my guilt and shame as I witnessed the destruction my words caused. She didn’t deserve to hear the spewing of my venomous despair, and it’s why I tried to keep her away. It was to protect her from all the ways I would infect her.

“If you can’t pray, then maybe you could go see someone?” she suggested tentatively. “I know someone who can help you and pray for you. He’s just up the street so it’s not even far.”

“No.”

I wanted help, but felt powerless to release the clutches of pain that pinned me to my bed.

“This guy is different. He sits on the curb at the end of the street and he truly has a gift. Please, will you go to him?”

I knew exactly the man she was talking about. He was born blind and had suffered an injury that left him paralyzed. He was very poor. He had four or five children and a wife to feed and they didn’t have enough. So every morning one of his children would take him to the corner to hold out his pan, offering it to the mercy of those walking by.

“Him?” I asked.

“Yes, I’m telling you. He has a gift,” she assured me.

“He is crippled. How could he help me? He can’t even help himself! I’ve seen him begging on the corner with his children. He relies on the mercy of strangers.”

“Don’t discount him because he’s so broken. It’s because he has endured so much suffering in this realm that his prayers are so powerful. He doesn’t charge much money, but even if he did it would be worth it. You will not regret it. He will know how to help.”

As the story unfolded, Zenab’s encounter with this man was exactly what she needed in that moment– which makes me wonder, Who are the people in my life that I am discounting because of outward appearances or unfortunate circumstances?

What about you?

Do you have any stories of wisdom found in unlikely places?

image: flickr creative commons pryere

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