March 7, 2021
3rd Sunday in Lent
When Jesus turned and saw them following him, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” ~ John 1:38-39
What is taught by example is more significant than what is taught by words. ~ John McQuiston II
After graduating from college in the Texas panhandle, I did not know what to do or where to go. I did not know what I was looking for, so it was hard to find it. I spent the summer in an unfulfilling internship which simply confirmed my lostness. I called my grandma, a public-school librarian, and she said, “Why don’t you come to Kansas?”
“Kansas?” “Yeah, why don’t you come to Kansas?” I packed my bags and off I went to the Land of Oz with no job prospects, until I stumbled onto my dream job delivering pizzas (we got free pizza every night) for Big Cheese Pizza. My dad said, “So, why did you go to college?”
Grandma Pruitt invited me to “come and see” how she lived. She did not tell me what to do, where to work, or what to believe. She just invited me to follow her around the streets of Wichita.
Grandma read two books (they were usually short) and went to one movie a week. We went to see “Dumb and Dumber” together and she laughed more than I did. She was a lifelong learner who did not take herself too seriously. I remember she had a subscription to the magazine “Soviet Life.” I questioned her allegiance and she said, “Craig, it’s about people and culture. We can learn so much from each other.”
I went to St. Paul’s United Methodist Church with her on Sundays. She sparred with the minister, Chuck Chipman, but I could tell they really loved each other. Once, when he was particularly adamant about a point of view, Grandma told him to loosen his halo. I learned we can love someone and disagree with them at the same time. (Note: Chuck ended up officiating at Jennifer’s and my wedding.)
Grandma cooked dinner for the homeless on Christmas Eve and she knew many of the guests by name. As a librarian she shared her love of reading with underserved children. Grandma always wore a story necklace when she read to the children. (Jennifer and I have couple of them in our house now.) The red, brown, black, and white children from around the world would gather around her as she read, and you could hear a pin drop. She was in heaven when she shared a story. She showed me that as Joseph Campbell said, “If we follow our bliss, doors will open for us that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”
I watched how she lived and who she loved. She had a particularly wonderful relationship with her hairdresser Jim who died of AIDS. Grandma did not flinch; she loved him until the end. I do not know if I understood her actions at the time during the height of the AIDS epidemic, but she showed me the vastness and depth of God’s Grace.
Because of her faith, Grandma’s circle of compassion grew and grew. Grandma certainly had her faults, but I saw the Living Christ in her. I am thankful she invited me to “come and see” how she lived.
Who in our life has invited us into their home and into their life, and their example enriched us and blessed us? We learned how to live just by watching them.
Cynthia Bourgeault says in her book The Wisdom Jesus, “Jesus did not teach his disciples mere conceptual information as we do in most schools, but he introduces them to a lifestyle or a way of life. The only way he can do that is to invite them to live with him. He invites us to do the same,” (see John 1:39).
“What is taught by example is more significant than what is taught by words,” said John McQuiston II. Whenever people asked Mother Teresa what she was doing in Calcutta, she would say, “Come and see.”
“We can see the disciples standing at Jesus’ side, watching him, and noticing how he does things: how he talks to the children, how he cares for the blind and the sick, how he listens, how he’s patient, how he depends on God, how he takes time for prayer, how he doesn’t respond cynically or bitterly, but trustfully and yet truthfully? Can you imagine a more powerful way to learn?” writes Father Richard Rohr.
May we give thanks to those people who have taught us how to live well through their living example.
May we “come and see” the way of God’s grace and compassion.
May we be the hands and feet of Christ.
Blessings and peace,