I went down to the basement level of First Baptist Church on Wednesday to greet the people who come for our shower ministry. I try to do this every week, partly because I love the people and partly because it keeps my ministry “real.” Instead of visiting only with the sweet-smelling and freshly scrubbed Christians of First Baptist Church I get to spend some time visiting with people who are down on their luck and out on the streets.
It was one of those people who was telling me on Wednesday that the bodies in which we live are only the temporary accommodation of our souls. “Your body is like a house,” he said, “and the real you lives inside it. Or maybe it’s more like a spacesuit…or an earthsuit! Yeah, that’s it!” he said, slapping the table. He seemed pleased at having coined a new word.
We talked about life inside the earthsuit for a while and as we did I couldn’t help thinking about his. It looked like he had been wearing it for seventy years or more (or maybe he had only been wearing it for sixty hard years). He had a long, white beard and dark glasses that made it impossible for me to see his eyes. I’ve heard that eyes are the “window of the soul,” and I had a feeling that if he would take off those dark glasses I could catch a glimpse of the real him inside the suit. But he kept the glasses on and kept on talking about his earthsuit.
When I saw him last week he was wearing a yarmulke. I asked him about that and he told me it came from the gift shop at the Messianic Jewish synagogue just down the street. He said the Hebrew letters on it spell out “Jesus is the Messiah.” “I wouldn’t wear it if it didn’t say that,” he told me. “And I wouldn’t wear a Muslim prayer cap. I’m a Christian. But I like to wear that yarmulke,” he said, lowering his voice, “because I have a little bald spot on top.”
“You don’t have a bald spot,” I said, grinning. “Your earthsuit does!” And somehow that made it easier, to think that it wasn’t really him who was getting older and balder, but only his “earthsuit” wearing out like everything else we own eventually does. I wished him well, said goodbye, and then walked away with the slight limp I’d had since running the day before.
I’m not sure what caused it…
Maybe I pulled a muscle in my earthsuit.