Here I am, 62 years old and I have finally learned how to retain what I read; I was wisely advised to 1) define my intention when starting a book, writing on the front page what my intention is; 2) underline and circle all passages that are important to me; 3) make detailed notes in the margins as to how and why the underlined and circled passages are significant; and 4) write the margin notes as if someone were listening…as if in conversation.
I have also learned that there is much wisdom and insight in the margins of society. I have wanted to smack people who say that people who live in poverty…or the homeless…are that way because they want to be. But, I must be honest: I live in poverty now, and if someone were to offer to lift me out of it, I would have serious reservations. I have not always appreciated the value and merit of my hard life. But with 20/20 hindsight, I can see that God has been answering my prayers…all along the way. I find myself now in a place of honor.
The beauty is that I can stand toe-to-toe with scientists, professionals, bureaucrats, and managers; I have been all those things. I can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with single mothers, divorced women, abusive / neglectful parents, persecuted Christians, even the promiscuous because I have been them. Now, I can look in the eyes of customers who are missing teeth, wear worn-out clothing, and are buying cheap food with EBT cards and show them ‘knowing love’ and compassion; my smile is genuine. I can sit with patience as the crippled man and the one with slow speech get to the parts of their stories where the true deep wisdom of life comes out. I am one with them because I am truly one of them. The ‘crazy’ woman in the doctor’s office is no different from me except that she is at a bad place in her illness and is un-medicated.
To be no better off than anyone around me is a truly privileged place to be. I am never embarrassed by their poverty or uncomfortable with their conditions. I sit easy in the DSS or Social Security offices because I belong there. Jesus was able to break bread with the tax collectors and prostitutes because He was one with God. For me, though, it took a lifetime of abuse, neglect, mistreatment, and illness. But I had prayed for that…sort of.
When I was a teenager, I prayed for the wisdom that scripture said was so valuable. I also prayed to have a mastery of words so that I might be able to heal and to help people understand life and to get along. Then I forgot that I had prayed for all of this. Thank God, God did not forget.
So, here I am. God has been answering my prayers for the past 62.8 years. And God is not done with me yet. These days I’m learning how to obey that small voice that says, “Let her talk.”