Apricot bits pair with creamy yellow couscous pearls, tumbling off Daniel’s spoon and speckling his chin. Mediterranean food rains down on his wooden chair and the linoleum floor below.
“As soon as you’re done, we’ll play outside,” Morgan urges.
“Mom, I done!” he asserts.
“No, eat a few more bites,” I tell him. He bounces anxious shoulders, squirming in his chair, afraid his sister will recant the offer or leave without him. Understanding his worry, I head to his side of the table, helping him scoop a few more sweet bites into his mouth.
“Okay, you can go now!” I swipe couscous crumbs from his face, off the table, and across my hands. Daniel races downstairs, calling his sister’s name, a streak of blue-striped pajamas.
Last night in the youth group worship time, a young teen welcomes me excitedly. “Will you sit with me, Mrs. Dougan?” She knows she can call me Jen, but she chooses Mrs. Dougan. “Sure, Alisha*.”
We smile and whisper in the darkened room as the music starts, and then turn to sing. As I sing, her shoulders sway and bump into me at each measure. I grin quietly and step gently to the right. Singing loudly beside me, she steps closer again, swaying into my shoulder every two beats. Knowing this, I smile, wait a few minutes and subtly step right again. Brunette girl sings and follows me into the aisle. In quiet laughter, I stay there, singing, smiling, and bumping shoulders.
Brushing shoulders in constant rhythm distracts me until it turns my attention to Jesus.
In a crowd of bustling people, the long-haired man walked. Jostled by the usual Middle Eastern market crowds, today’s walk had an added dimension though. People were here to watch him, to see what he would do, and to ask for help. Lame men and women with oozing sores or encrusted stumps, frazzled parents with coughing children, and hollow-eyed people followed him hungrily. One woman, smelling of human waste and blood, accustomed to recoil and rejection, didn’t even try to start a conversation with him. Reaching through the crowd, she snaked her hand to his free-flowing robe.
“If I can just brush his robe, then I’ll be healed,” she thought, a victim of a life-long disease. “If I can just brush against him, life will be different. This will be taken care of. I will be well again,” she knew.
Brushing shoulders or clothing-hems with the Godhead will transform lives, heal wounds, bring life. And she was right! Her grip started a conversation, ending with a healed body and a reconciled relationship with God.
Grinning in a darkened worship center, my shoulders being rocked into every two beats, I suddenly see things differently. I can be Jesus here to her, my sweet teen.
I can see Jesus in her too. And this brushing of shoulders in a crowd of people is a good way to re-see Jesus, and to worship.
Outside now, Daniel and Morgan fly down the slide in a tumble of striped blue pajamas, red flannel jackets, and laughter. The couscous is all brushed off for now, but the Mediterranean fragrances still linger sweetly in my home, and remind me to brush shoulders with the Mediterranean Walker more often.
Photo credit, although this was not the recipe we used, nor did ours have olives in it.