"As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard a crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.' Then he shouted, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!' Those who were in front sternly ordered him to be quiet; but he shouted even more loudly, "Son of David, have mercy on me!'" - Luke 18:35-39 (NRSV)
Sometimes, Depression sends a postcard ahead of his visits. On one side, in fat and deceptively friendly script, the words, "Wish You Were Here." On the other side, scrawled in his recognizable handwriting, the simple words, "I'll be there soon."
Other times, Depression just lets himself in unannounced. I find him one morning on the couch. "Sit down," he coaxes, "I brought chips. And there's a Star Trek marathon on."
Sometimes I think he must be right. Surely there's no better way to spend this day or this week or this month than couch, junk food, familiar television.
This time, though, I hear sounds outside. Instead of settling, I stand. I stick my head out the window to see what is going on.
Jesus is here. Right now. Passing by.
"Jesus, have mercy." I say it out loud and Depression turns his head, shushes me.
"Jesus! Have mercy!" I say it louder this time, open the door so I can really see them going by—a parade of hopeful, grieving, joyous, broken, kind-hearted people.
They are singing and dancing and they all have their eyes on the Healer who shines like a light in their midst, who is holding a hand out to me. Then, they are all holding out their hands, and I take one step toward them and then another and then another.
I leave the door open behind me, so Depression can let himself out.
Brother Christ, when we feel isolated by illness or grief, bring the healing presence of Your loving community right to us. Amen.
Jennifer Brownell is the Pastor of First Congregational Church of Vancouver, Washington, and the author of Swim, Ride, Run, Breathe: How I Lost a Triathlon and Caught My Breath, her inspiring memoir.