You can find some beautiful things in alleys and dark places. Just ask Elizabeth Gibson. On her typical morning walk she spotted something in a dumpster. She had no idea what it was but she said something just, "pulled me in". She moved toward the dumpster. Had the courage to open lids, shift debris, and get her hands dirty only to find an abstract piece of art. Her words: Even though I didn't understand it, I knew it had power". The painting was a Rufino Tamayo original worth $1,049,000 at auction.
You can find some beautiful things in alleys and dark places. But to be real with you I very seldom want to run to those dark places. Getting my hands dirty by touching the debris of people's lives is hard. I do it. I have been doing it for several years. I find it to be a profound honor to keep company with my friend that struggles with sobriety and staying off the streets. I find it rewarding to have had the opportunity to hang with a heroin addict and feel the full range of emotions of those dealing with bipolar disorder. But to say I want to run to those dark places would be a lie. God has graced me with those experiences and those deep abiding relationships but it isn't the line I voluntarily stand in. Which is a shame because I know they show me such beauty in those dark alleys.
I think this is why Jesus invites us to stand in solidarity with the hurting. This is what He did. He lived with humanity. He was baptized in the water humanity was immersed in. Jesus lived and loved among the broken and spiritually bankrupt. Jesus stood in solidarity with the hurting and still does. And He invites us all to that dark place. This is a fact we have to constantly affirm in ourselves and confirm with our peers.
If we forget that Jesus stood in solidarity with the hurting we find ourselves falling prey to the rhetoric of the day. This is a rhetoric that gives us the luxury to question the veracity of the hurt first and then decide whether we will help or not. To fall prey to the rhetoric of the day leads us to use our own understanding of the hurt as a gauge to determine if we will help or not. But Jesus stood in solidarity with the hurting first and calls us to do the same. Whether it is those facing discrimination, the immigrant, the marginalized, or the broken; we move to the dark place and stand with the hurting first. We become a listening presence first. We love them first. Which then opens the lid for us to understand, ask questions in love, and determine how true the hurt is. We do this secondary work not from our vantage point but from theirs.
This call to those dark alleys of solidarity with the hurting pulls us in. When we get there we may not understand it but we will stand witness to so much power. And for those willing to go they gain more than just the enormous satisfaction of doing good. Those who stand in solidarity with the hurting also discover the deepest parts of who they are as well as gain a glimpse of God. All of which are worth a fortune.