Passing on the Left - Laurie DeYoung

Thank you to my friend, Laurie DeYoung for today’s guest post!

“When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, ‘Lord, should we strike with our swords?’  And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.  But Jesus answered, ‘No more of this!’  And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.”  Luke 22:49-51 (moments before Christ was arrested) 

The day falls somewhere between Palm Sunday and Good Friday.  I decide to do one of my favorite things whenever I’m in sunny Florida and that is to ride my bike over to the only coffee shop in town.  There are bike paths throughout the area for walkers and bikers and skaters.   This isn’t a speed bike I’m riding, mind you, it’s a beach cruiser. I call it a cruiser because you’re never really in a hurry when you ride it.  You’re moving at a nice pace, one in which you can really drink in the environment all around. It’s relaxed and invigorating all at the same time.  At this time of year, spring break is all around us and the landscape is littered with many a tourist making full use of these tropical bike paths.

So off I go with the best of intentions and shortly into the ride I come up behind a couple taking a relaxed and invigorating stroll on the path. I  have a bell on my bike but have taken note over the years that an abrupt alarm from behind can be startling to some, so when it is the busy season I will instead gently say, “Passing on the left!” This generally is less unsettling to unsuspecting walkers, but not so on this day.  The woman moved slightly to the right so I could easily pass but her partner took a sliding step to the left and landed directly in line with my front tire. He couldn’t have centered himself more squarely had he tried…and down we both went.  I think I was repeating, “Passing on the left” again as I dusted myself off and stood up wondering how anyone could get such a simple statement so wrong.

I asked if he was all right and he was wondering the same about me.  While a group of us tried to straighten out my front fender so the tire would still go round, the man’s wife whispered to me, “He’s dyslexic, and he can’t always decide quickly what’s left and what’s right.”  There it was.  Once again I asked God to help me to start more instinctively seeing things from other people’s perspectives.  I thought of the account of Christ’s arrest, crucifixion and resurrection in the New Testament.  I wondered about Pilate who knew in his gut if not his heart that this barbaric slaughter of an innocent man was misguided, was wrong.  I thought about the servant of the high priest, one of the men sent to arrest Jesus, remembering how Peter jumped in the middle of things and with his sword sliced off the man’s ear.  His name was Malchus.  Jesus healed him, replaced his ear on the spot. And I thought of Peter who denied he knew Christ at all, not once, not twice, but three times.  It is good for my soul to embrace each of these people as well as so many others critical to the Easter story.

Father, thank you for your sacrifice, for enduring the pain of an only son abused, dying on a cross and then miraculously resurrected by your power as part of the most amazing story ever.  I hear Jesus telling you to forgive me for I don’t know what I’m doing. When I read some of his very last words in your scripture, I can see myself in the frenzied crowd.  I feel Jesus’ healing touch on my own life when I read about his grace for Malchus.  I beg forgiveness for all the times I have denied you and your son by my actions or thoughts.  Thank you for the way you continue to transform me, thank you for your patience and unfailing love.  Thank you for Jesus and your spirit that empowers and makes all things new.

– Laurie DeYoung