running for a kebab

23 07 2013

What connects 10 miles, 32º, a kebab shop and a fasting Muslim? Limits, that’s what. 

You don’t know your limits until you reach them. The trouble is when you reach them it is too late. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a limit. So mostly we don’t reach them, we just go near them. Peer at the edge. But crossing over the limit can take you to an exciting place. In hindsight. 

running blur

Yesterday on the hottest day for 6 years me and a friend decided to go for a run. 10 miles. Quite long for both of us. Especially in 32º. As we ran (and sweated) we were talking about life and faith and some deep stuff. And wondering why we hadn’t brought any water. Soon the thought of the iced water waiting for me in the car was too much to bear. 

There are times when you know you’ve reached your limits. This was it. Swallow the pride. So, where could we get some water? The man hosing his garden was an option, but we ran past. Ah, the gymn… we went in, sweating, and asked for a cup of water. After some deliberation,  we were allowed to sup water from the sink in the toilet. 

Not enough though. As we ran on, my friend remembered he used to be on first-name terms with the man in the kebab shop. As many of us have been at one point. So we ducked in there. He wasn’t there. But we asked for some water from the young man grilling chicken and slicing kebab. He was very kind, went and got us a bottle he had drunk during his fast yesterday, and filled it for us. 

He was intrigued by our need for water. I’m fasting, he said, I’m a Muslim. Wow, we said, working in a kebab shop during a fast must be a challenge! He looked at us as if to say, which of us seems in most need at the moment? He then explained the medical and physiological benefits of fasting. He then refilled our bottles and we went on our way.

2 Christians receiving unexpected hospitality from a young, fasting Muslim in a kebab shop. That would never have happened if we hadn’t pushed ourselves to a point of need. Need from strangers.

It made me think about how rarely in my life I need something from a stranger that I cannot pay for. Asking for help can be humiliating. That moment as they decide, on their terms, whether to help. Assessing whether I am genuine, whether they have the resources to share, what others will say. Who is my neighbour? I realise I am always the Good Samaritan when I tell that story. Put the shoe on the other foot. See the world differently   

As the Foodbank grows in usage at our church, these things are on my mind. I need to remember what it feels like to be at my limit, to be at the mercy of strangers, because in depending on each other and asking for help we can truly be community. If we never need anything from anyone, how can we understand what it is to be in need.  

Still might take water next time though.  

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4 responses

23 07 2013
dorothy726

very thought-provoking. Thank you. Maybe if I need to ask for help – and I’ve needed to quite a lot in the past year – that doesn’t after all mean I’m a total failure as a human being… after all, I don’t view any who ask _me_ for help as any kind of failure…
And I think I might return to the Good Samaritan as the Samaritan…
And that also makes me wonder about other parables and turning them on thier interpretive head…
And speaking of needing help – should it be interpretive or interpretave? both look wrong to me, but I think maybe interpretave looks wronger… 🙂

23 07 2013
Mum

I find it hard to ask for help….. when I in such dire need I feel people wont want to help so alas I go it alone, or very nearly.
I feel there are conditions. I know that I can only accept help from those closest who don’t care how unkempt I am or untidy the house is.

18 08 2013
giovannipinto

Thanks, and check out great content for your edification; http://blogdogigio.com/who-wants-a-sinner/

5 09 2013
MsXpat

I truly enjoyed this post, it was inspirational and funny.

Made me remember recently when I accidentally locked myself and the kids out of our flat on a VERY HOT SUMMER DAY with no money or change of clothes or mobile phone. I suddenly felt so vulnerable and afraid. I tried to get help at my local GP practice but the were not as helpful as I would have hoped (LONG STORY) for but in the end went to our local food and veg shop, I used their phone to call my husband.

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