Rachel and I split a banana every morning as part of our breakfast. To keep fresh bananas, this means we go to the store at least twice a week.
This last bunch of bananas, which we finished this morning, was a very interesting lot. We started with 5 or six bananas, and they were just a bit green when we bought them.
The first couple I peeled had small bad spots on them. This was odd because neither showed before I peeled the banana. The peel was completely yellow on each of them; not a mark or a spot that would indicate bruising. yet, in each one, was at least one bruise.
I peeled today the final banana. I had been saving it for last as it looked the worst. One-third of the lower end of the banana peel was blackened or scarred. As I began to peel it this morning, I was prepared for the worst, and actually expected that we would be sharing far less than a full banana.
I opened the peel to reveal a flawless fruit! Not a mark or scratch or bruise anywhere on the banana itself!
If you get the cheesy point, feel free to stop readnig and start pondering here.
I can’t remember where I was the other day, but it was in some large gathering of generally well-off Christians. You know what I mean; the kind of gathering where someone inevitably mentions the “kind of people” we are glad we aren’t, but ought to be helping.
You know: where middle-class people refer to the down-and-out poor and homeless as those who obviously lack the quality of life we have.
The trouble I (increasingly) have with this kind of talk is that I live among people who are “them.’ More and more, whenever one of “us” refers to “them” like that, I take offense; almost as though I am one of “them.”
I, of course, am not one of “them.” I’ve had it good my whole life. Parents still together (49 years as of last Friday). I graduated near the top of my class from high school, went straight to a good college (from which I graduated early and debt-free), straight to seminary, and into the steady work of being a pastor.
If my life were a banana, it would be a solid, perfectly yellow banana. Until peeled.
Peeled, my life would show years of self-doubt and low self esteem. It would show a 15 year marriage ended in divorce. It would show failed times in ministry and damaged relationships.
I work mostly with adolescents, many of whose lives show the hurt they’ve been dealt. I have spent many years pastoring churches filled mostly by people whose lives didn’t.
You just can’t tell by looking at someone what kind of life he or she has had; what kind of hurt she or he has endured; what kind of load he or she might be carrying.
Anymore than you can tell a banana by looking at its peel.