There's a meth freak down the street. Her addiction has turned her into something that seems not quite human. She's stripped down, muscles twitching over bone, wild-eyed, hair spinning out into an electric halo of black and grey. Her stained pants fall down over her hips and her favorite t-shirt says in 6-inch high letters:RIP My Grandson J_____ M______
She's completely in her own world, or in 1000 worlds at once. She's accompanied by a small army of yapping chihuahuas and puppies, none of them with collars or leashes, some always skittering into the street as she yells "Goddamnityoumotherfuckerasshole come back here."
Then she scoops them up and alternately screams at them and kisses them as they squirm in her arms, overwhelmed by her confusing attention.
Her house is a whirling vortex of chaos. There are always people coming and going, stopping their cars in the middle of the street, yelling at each other.
There are broken windows, music playing too loud at all hours, messy piles of junk appearing, being sorted and hauled off.
Sometimes projects start and take too long, like mowing and edging the grass for six hours. Then progress is abandoned with the mower on the lawn and piles of moldering clippings on the sidewalk left for weeks.
I woke this morning, Sunday morning, thinking about one remarkable thing.
If you believe in Jesus - and my personal beliefs are a matter of some complexity and confusion - you have to believe that Jesus loves this person - this crazy wreck of a woman - as much as he loves anyone.
The true miracle of Christ is that this person is as beloved as you or me or Oprah or Rick Warren. This woman, who looks from the outside as if she has done everything wrong, who is smashed into pieces by her choices and her life, who is lost, who is a huge mess, is the person Jesus talked about loving most.
It's an almost impossible belief, to think of everyone as beloved and worthy of love. It is, in a way, the most frightening thing on earth. I think that's why we do so much to run away from it, but all of our prettiness, all of our comforts, all of our perfection can't save us from the one terrifying mystery: we are all equally loved.