Many years ago, when I was a high school student at a Catholic High School in a small town in Ohio, I served on the staff of our school newspaper as a feature writer. I based one story on a situation that took place on a cold, dark, dreary, rainy, sleet-filled, Friday night.
Some friends and I were on our way to a neighboring town for our boys high school basketball game. Although it wasn’t late, maybe around 6:00PM, it was dark because of the winter day. All of a sudden the car jerked and veered, my friend struggled to control the car. Bringing the car to rest on the side of the road, we discovered a flat tire. We were the only ones on the road. We had been lost. The road was unfamiliar. The flat tire added to the feeling of being lost. None of us knew how to change a tire. We waited. We would be late for the game. We were apprehensive as this was unfamiliar territory for us. (This was the time before cell phones!) There were no stores or gas stations, no way to call for help. We waited.
It seemed like forever. Then we saw what looked like headlights coming down the road. A mirage? No really headlights. We began to flag down the car which initially was just sailing down the road. The car stopped. A man emerged. He was all dressed up. What’s the problem? We told him. I’ll change it for you. We later learned that helping us made him late for his commitment. He didn’t seem to care about that or his dress clothes. He wanted to help us.
When back on the road we talked about his kindness and generosity of time. Later I wrote an article for the school newspaper on the Friday night adventure giving the title: An EnTIRE Impression.
In the Christian Scriptures (Luke 10:25-37) Jesus talks about an entire impression referring to the person who stopped along the road to help someone when others passed by without offering to help. The good Samaritan. There are many contemporary examples of the good Samaritan: first responders, the woman posing for engagement pictures with her fiancé who jumped into a lake–all dressed up–to save a drowning child. Anyone who “runs” toward a situation to offer help rather than “running” away is a good Samaritan.
Although we are often clear on what it means to be a good Samaritan to others, what does it mean to be a good Samaritan toward ourselves? Perhaps we would never think about leaving someone else “on the side of the road”, yet how many times do we “leave” ourselves on the side of the road? Would we say some of the things we say to ourselves to others? Usually not, often we are kinder to others than we are to ourselves.
Embracing life ENTIRELY means caring for ourselves. Airplane safety instructions apply here: in case of an emergency first secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others. Perhaps it goes against years of conditioning, yet we are in a better place to help others when we have cared for ourselves. Both/and –ourselves and others gives the entire story of the good Samaritan.
Our invitation is to embrace life entirely.
Blessings and peace