Sunday, January 30, 2011

Would I Be Willing to Kiss Someone I'd Rather Kill?

 (Here's a brief but poignant post from Greg Boyd.  His words and the following photo capture my heart.)

A Revolutionary Kiss
Posted: 29 Jan 2011 10:40 AM PST
Amidst the violent protests calling for a revolution in Egypt we find a reminder of the utterly unique kind of revolution Jesus calls us to. Love, bless, pray for, do good to — and yes, even KISS — our enemies (Lk 6:27-38).
(An Egyptian anti-government activist kisses a riot police officer following clashes in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 28, 2011.MSNBC.COM)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Stay Sick--or--Get Well: Not an Obvious Choice

Once upon a time ( a true story) during the reign of Caesar Augustus there was in Jerusalem a pool that reportedly had mystical powers of healing.  The gospel of John, chapter 5, tells us that "a large number of disabled people used to lie around its perimeter--the blind, the lame, the paralyzed."  One rendition states that God would cause the waters to stir and the first individual into the pool after each disturbance would be healed.  On one occasion Jesus finds this pool and sees a man lying close to the pool.  This man has been an invalid for 38 hellish years.  Think about the despondency, the resignation generated by being incapacitated for 38 years.   Jesus sees this man lying there and having been made aware of his decades-long suffering I would have thought that Christ's heart of compassion would have prompted him to immediately provide a healing touch to this man.  I'd have thought that Jesus would restore this man's body to health and turn that which had become bent and crooked into that which could stand tall and erect. 

Instead, Jesus asks him a question which, on the surface, comes off as either stupid or very insensitive.  Jesus asks the man, "Do you want to get well?"  "Do you want to be healed?"   That's one of those questions you and I might impulsively answer with, "Duh."   Stupid question, don't ya think?  If not stupid, then insensitive.  This poor man has been incapacitated for 38-and-counting years, incapable of even the smallest of tasks, likely the object of disdain by those with their nose up in the air, and Jesus, you have to ask if he wants to get well?  Isn't it obvious?  No, not at all.  And that's why Jesus asked him the question.

You have to know there are perks in staying sick.  There are pay-offs in not getting well.  The clinical term is secondary gains. The gains, the pay-offs are not obvious but nonetheless part of the package of perks that come with staying sick.  "John" was an alcoholic before he and "Mary" met and married 25 years ago.  He has never addressed his alcoholism and Mary and the kids have learned to live with it.  He misses work and she calls in for him, coming up with some viable excuse.  John's a mean drunk and the kids have learned to tiptoe around Dad and avoid him, not rocking the boat.  Mary has taken on another part-time job to make up for the loss of income due to John's absenteeism and to cover the cost of the booze he downs. Jesus asks,"Do you want to get well, John?"  You see, if John begins recovery work he will have to take responsibility for himself.  He'd have to step up to the plate.  He'd have to man-up.  He would have to change, rather than his kids adapting their behavior.  Yes, John, your alcoholism is killing you and destroying your family, but Jesus, who knows us inside and out, asks a very penetrating question--do you want to get well?

There are pay-offs if you and I remain depressed.  Until a couple of years ago "Sally" was thriving and successful, as was her husband "Jim."  Both had become distracted by their respective career pursuits and own individual interests, and their connection with each other was now ignored. Jim was too busy to stop and pay attention to her.  On those rare occasions when he would 'hop off the treadmill" he was too preoccupied to listen to her and was in his own little world.  The loneliness was taking a toll on her and despondency wrapped  its tentacles around her spirit.  Six months ago she took an overdose while he was away on a business trip.  He rushed home and stayed by her bedside at the hospital. It got his attention.  Since then, Jim has cut back on his 70 hour work-week and spends more time with Sally.  He asks how she's feeling.  He listens to her bleak lament.  He has even taken her on several overnights since this storm of depression assailed her.  Jesus asks, do you want to get well, Sally?  Are you sure, Sally?   Being depressed, you are receiving more love and caring attention from Jim than you ever got when you were on top of your game.

I think that getting well can be terrifying for some of us.  If I get well, then there go all my excuses.  I can no longer fall back on what has served to keep me in my crippled comfort zone all this time.  If I  were to truly seek healing from God, what grand and noble purposes might he have in mind for me?  I'm just a lowly self-loathing worm and surely, God. you're not calling me to ascend to new heights of freedom, unparalleled adventure, and heroic engagement in these hard times.  I'm afraid to contemplate what I could be if I were to be healed.  

Listen to these words of Nelson Mandela.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, talented. . . Actually, who are you not to be?  You are a child of God.  Your playing small does not serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.  We are all meant to shine, as children do.  We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

God,  please heal me of my fear of getting well and would you be gracious enough to then heal me of my sickness?  I ask for discontentment with my sickness and courage to embrace healing and the life that will accompany it.

Jesus stills asks, do you want to get well?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Retirement: Leaving a Career, Listening to Stories, Following a Calling

I'm eighteen hours into retirement.  So far, so good.  I have been in the counseling field, whether clinically or pastorally, for a long time.  It's been a wild ride.  I have seen and heard more than I ever dreamed or dreaded.

There was Billy* who abused any obtainable substance--a huffer-- and showed up for our session with spray-paint all around his mouth and nose, assuring me he was clean.

There was Carl and Nancy whose lack of hygiene was unspeakable.  I felt guilty but each time they left a session I would wipe down the furniture and spray air freshener in the room and hallway so the next client would be able to tolerate the atmosphere.

There was Jill.  As we were talking I offhandedly told her she was special and continued talking, only to notice she had broken down and was weeping.  My first impulse was to think I had possibly offended or hurt her.  She assured me that wasn't the case.  Rather, "No one has ever told me I'm special."  She was decades into her adult life and no one had ever said something like that to her.  No one.  How can that be?

There was James.  A pastor who found himself in a deep, dark place.  Suicidal.  A pastor--a messenger of hope, agonizing to find hope.

There was the cop, responsible for enforcing law and order, whose own life and marriage was total chaos, and insisted that his word was the law in their house.  Sir, you can be right--or--you can be  married.

 There was Emma who had been financially exploited and manipulated by another therapist in the community and now didn't know who she could trust anymore.

There was George who swore he'd been framed, that he would never violate a child.  Pleading with me to believe him because so few others were.  Assuring me of  his moral integrity and that he would never do something so reprehensible.  In tears, telling me how scared he was and that  this couldn't be happening.   I believed him.  I stood by him.  And then it was brought to light that the charges were true, and, in fact, he had committed prior acts with others.  George will likely die of old-age in prison--claiming his innocence. 

Ed and Karen.  Married.  Two kids.  Ed loved his kids, but had a special bond with his son, Brad.  They were tight.  Curious as to why a car was running in their attached garage, Ed discovered the lifeless body of his son in the frontseat, a hose running from the car's exhaust to the driver's window.  Ed and Karen and I talked for a long, long time over the course of many, many months seeking consolation and healing and a reason for themselves to continue living.

There was Mary, in her 60's, maybe 70's.  Childhood wounds still afflicting her.  As a little girl, she had never been allowed to play.  Always had to be responsible.  Wanted her mom to read her nursery rhymes before bedtime but that was "childish" and mom was "too busy."  There was something about that, in particular, that she missed so much.  We talked about the inherent worth of that little girl, the God-given value of that inner child.  On rare occasions, therapy is simple.  At the end of one of our sessions I reminded her of the reality and presence of "the little girl" within her presently  and I asked her what prevented her from reading nursery rhymes now.  "Well, nothing, I guess."  She went to the library and brought home several collections of nursery rhymes.  At night she began reading her nursery rhymes and took absolute delight in them.  Once upon a time. . .

There was Mallory who had been sexually abused when a little girl.  She had never told anyone of the demonic horrors, and, instead had stuffed it all her life.  Out of sight, out of mind, so she thought.  Unwittingly, she was living a life of flight, a life of reaction.  After her painstaking efforts to face the shame that was strangling her she began to trust me and she disclosed details of what had been done to her.   She was violated in ways that in moments of my hottest rage and desire for revenge against an enemy I have never schemed.  To this day I cannot speak of her abuse without losing my composure.    

There was Bernard whose job required him to be on the road a lot.  So self-conscious, insecure and ashamed of himself  that when driving down the Interstate if he caught the look of another passing driver he would quickly turn away, in an effort to avoid the feared scorn and disdain of another human being.

There was Jason, a husband and loving father.  He wept as he disclosed to me secrets never before told.  Secrets of his addiction, an addiction neither his wife or kids know about, an addiction that, if he does not address, will rob him of everyone he loves.  And he'll be left with just another one-night stand.

There was Becky, who had grown up in a rigid, authoritarian religious subculture and had been shamed into living a life of rules-keeping, but no relationship.  She came to me with her questions, her doubt, her desperate longing for meaning.  Somewhere and somehow in the counseling process she encountered Christ's love and mercy and experienced the love of God in an unparalleled way, and I didn't even know it til after the fact.  

There have been hundreds and hundreds of other men and women who have trusted me with their stories. We have laughed at the hilarious and wept over the tragic.  Holding hands, agony and ecstasy have walked into my office hoping for understanding.  Confusion has entered, desperate for direction.  Heartache has cried herself into my presence, quietly pleading for comfort.  Buried in shame, many have come in hopes that maybe this time they won't be rejected.  Many have come, no longer believing in God yet desperate for God.

I do not know what good I've done or been.  Two things I do know.  The stories have broken me and blessed me.   And it has been my privilege to serve in this capacity wherein so many have trusted me with their lives, their sin, their pain, their dreams and hopes.  A privilege to serve in my faltering way as a mirror of God's grace and mercy. 

And now my own story is opening a new chapter.  So far, so good. 

* (all names and identifying details have been changed or omitted in order to protect the privacy and confidentiality of all individuals.)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Yipping Dogs, Insensitive Neighbors, and My Lousy Attitude

"Hate" is a strong word and in light of our culture's obsession with being politically correct we need to choose our words with care.  I HATE yipping dogs. 

As I type this a neighbor's yipping dog is barking incessantly outside.  And has been.  Aside from the fact that it is grossly (versus understandably) cruel to leave a yipping dog outside in 14 degree windchill weather, it is also terribly insensitive to those living in the vicinity.  I am three houses away and the doggy-decibels are sufficiently loud that the canine crescendo has me gritting my teeth while I type.  If I'm three houses away you know the owner (of the dog, not my house) knows that Fido is freakin' freezin' and bored to death, and therefore has catapulted into a manic episode of frenetic yipping.  If I were asked to bet on which will happen first--the dog freezing to death or  its owner gaining some sense of civility and neighborly manners--you know I'm putting my money on a very stiff dog.  

I'm sorry.  When I get in a highly agitated state like this I don't care what the SPCA thinks about my attitude.  I just want the dog to decide to shutup since the owner doesn't have enough sense to bring it in the house.  Or the dog to freeze to death and thereby shutup.  Or the neighbor to move away.  Or the neighbor to freeze to death  and Fido gets put up for adoption and goes to a loving hut in Africa. 

Seriously.  Is it that difficult to be aware of people around us, to care about people around us, and to take steps to avoid interfering with or disrupting our neighbors' space?  Is it that hard?  These seem like simple and realistic requests.  1.  Would you please refrain from leaving  your yipping dog outside to proceed to bark in staccato-like fashion?  2. Enjoy your music (as I enjoy mine) but don't play it at such levels that your music becomes my music because your music has drowned out my music.  You know, requests like that.  To me, getting along sounds so simple and ought to be so simple, but the neighbor three houses over makes it very difficult.

Some of you, I trust, are much more understanding and benevolent than me, and will come up with some logical explanation for the neighbor's yipping dog that is now in my crosshairs.  (Just kidding, SPCA.)  "Well, maybe the dog's owner is deaf and can't hear it."  Yeh, he's deaf;  his yipping dog blew out both eardrums years ago. 

I will calm down soon.  I will post this in my highly agitated state, and regret it within the hour.  In the meantime I will listen to some Wilco, maybe Ray LaMontagne, and pray-- if I can pry my teeth apart from each other.   

And don't ask me what I will be praying for.  Neither you nor the SPCA would likely appreciate my "Dear God, please. . . "  

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Universal Need to be Noticed

I’ve never received The Friendliest Human Being of The Year Award nor do I foresee it happening in this life or posthumously.  I try to be friendly and warm and often it is with substantial effort.  As a therapist I relate to and engage people all day and typically on an intense level.  By end of day “warm and friendly” has disintegrated into “warped and fiendish.”  I just want to be left alone; don’t bother me.  If my cell phone rings I moan, hoping the call isn’t urgent, important, or someone needing something.  If it is, this will require effort, energy, and empathy-- little of which I have after 6:00 p.m. 

All of this is preface.  I am involved in a local church and really enjoy these people.  On a Sunday morning I make it a point to greet my friends and inquire as to how they’re doing.  If I don’t know someone I may say hi and generically ask how they are doing.  I’m sincere in doing so, but it’s not like I am gushing friendliness and back-slapping everyone in sight.  So I was quite surprised by an email a friend at church sent me today.  She said,  Just wanted to say thanks for always acknowledging                .    It makes me feel good as her friend when others take the initiative to introduce themselves and then take the few seconds to say hi again each week! I know it means a lot to her too as the whole church thing is really new to her still and she doesn't know very many people. I just wanted you to know I noticed and I appreciate it!!

I appreciate her gesture of kindness, but am also saddened by it.  She is glad that I acknowledge her friend.  Are we becoming so uncivil and autonomous that mere acknowledgment of one’s existence and presence is deeply appreciated?  Can it be that a mere “Hi. . . how are you?. . . It’s good to see you. . . “ may be the only warm contact a person may receive during the week? 

Maybe we under-estimate the value of our words.  The healing influence of an affirming acknowledgment.  The significance of noticing someone.  We may never know (unless someone like my friend goes out of her way to tell us) the impact of our presence.  When I greet someone I usually will either shake their hand or gently and briefly place my hand on their shoulder.  We all need to know we are not untouchable, for untouchable often translates into unlovable.  One of the reasons I do so is because decades ago someone—without even knowing—deeply affirmed me in the most nonchalant way.

I was in my 20's and had gone through a devastating divorce that shattered my world.  I felt absolutely rejected and not only unloved but unlovable.  It was summertime in San Diego and I was sitting on the beach, my head down as I was buried in my sadness.  Several young women were chatting as they walked by and one of them saw me.  She saw into me.  She paused, spoke several words of greeting and reaching down she mussed up my hair, smiled and kept on walking.  I had never seen her before; never saw her again.  All I know is that in that 3-5 second encounter she imparted something to me that moved my heart and soothed my soul.  Her few words and her brief touch served to remind me that I still mattered--that as cast aside as I felt, I was still touchable.  That memory has stuck with me all these years. 

People need us to look them in the eye.  People need us to acknowledge them.  People need a loving touch.  Those simple gestures may have a lifelong impact.  You may never know.

I can tell you this; I know.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Children: The Litter of Our Landscape

We are all shocked and saddened by the Tuscon shootings, and, in particular, the murder of  9 year old Christina Green.  The shooting of a child exponentially heightens our outrage while intensifying our grief.  I understand our collective sadness; I don't know that we should be surprised, however, because it seems that in our society children are steadily coming to be viewed as dispensable.  Here’s why I am arriving at that conclusion:

**Our culture is all about ME.  Self-actualization.  Empowerment.  Self-fulfillment.  Individual autonomy.  Personal development. blah, blah, blah.  We seem to be moving in a direction where children are often viewed as an interference, an obstruction to MY goals, MY aspirations, MY pursuits.  I confess that when I was a young father there were times when I resented the necessity of attending to the needs of our children because it interfered with my own preferences and desires.  What comprised isolated incidents for some of us now appears to becoming a pattern for many in today's cultural climate.  If it's all about ME, then all others--including children-- become dispensable.  

**I understand these are uniquely different and difficult economic times which necessitate agonizing decisions to be made by parents.  Two incomes are essential for many families if they are to survive.  But--there seems to be a growing nonchalance, an indifference on the part of many other parents as to handing off their children to daycare or some other provider of care and abdicating their own personal responsibility to their children.  I get the sense that many don't want to sacrifice their comfortable lifestyle and their "toys," and in order to sustain that lifestyle they let someone else, in essence, raise and nurture their children.  "You take care of them during the day and we will tuck them in at night.  Well, one of us will. . . depending on who loses the argument."  Children are becoming an interference in our dogged pursuit of the American dream. 

**Rather than children being protected in war, they are being utilized as a means of waging war.  Explosives are strapped to children and then these innocents are told to run into the camp of the enemy.  Children are blown up as a means of blowing up more of the enemy.  Children are also being used as shields to hide behind.  Apparently titanium and Kevlar have become too expensive.  Let's throw a dispensable child in front of us, instead.

**I know that abortion is a complex issue with layers of moral and ethical ramifications.  I also understand that, at times, there are either life-threatening issues at stake or excruciating circumstances involved.  That being said, my impression is that for a number of couples an unexpected pregnancy and the possibility of a child entering their world would be a great inconvenience to their lifestyle and comfort zone.  The solution to the problem is to eliminate the child rather than curtail the lifestyle.  We can argue as to whether or not the fetus is a child; we can all agree that eventually, if the fetus is allowed to develop, a child will be born.  In those situations I’m alluding to, we are not merely aborting a fetus.  It’s not the 9 months gestation of the fetus we don’t want to hassle with.  It’s the decades of raising and nurturing a child that we don’t want to mess with.  I fear that children are coming to be viewed as a mere interference by some and that interference can be surgically discarded and now that couple can move on with their lives unencumbered.

I fear for us collectively as a civilization.  How a society regards its children speaks volumes about the likely moral future of that culture.

I also fear for you and me, individually.   And so should you.  What if our children someday return the favor and regard us as dispensable?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

War Does Not Determine Who is Right--Only Who is Left

I submit that you could insert  "Guns" for "War."   The attempted murder of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the accomplished murder of six others constitute an unconscionable tragedy.  I wish I had an answer.  I think I know what the answer isn't and I know there are many who would disagree with me.  The solution isn't more guns for us all.  The answer isn't  pack 'n carry.  That soon can turn into vigilante justice which, I fear, would lead to anarchy--every man for himself.  Imagine the scenario if every person within 50 yards of that shooting scene was carrying a weapon and unloaded their gun in the direction of the person(s) they thought had opened fire initially.  Have you ever reacted in panic, only seconds later to realize your clouded judgment in that state of mind?  Have you ever impulsively responded in anger or rage, only to regret the outcome of your actions?  Imagine the consequences with a Glock 9mm in your hand.   

The answer isn't more weapons in the hands of more people.   I don't understand the logic of that position.  That option frightens me rather than reassures me. I think it was former President Jimmy Carter who said, "War does not beget peace; war begets other wars."  I would opine that guns do not beget peace; more weapons of violence beget more violence.

How do we restore civility in the media, in the government, in our conversations and interactions with each other?   If we don't figure this out, there will be very few left to ponder the problem.  In a scene from Fiddler on the Roof the villager demands revenge and justice.

Villager: An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth! 
Tevye: Very good. That way the whole world will be blind and toothless.

God, have mercy on us all.  God, have mercy on those today who are burying people they have loved and lost.  Caress their hearts and comfort their homes.  God, give us grace to bestow grace toward those with whom we differ. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Facing the Fear: The Prerequisite to Dream-Building

You have to take risks, he said.  We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.
Every day, God gives us the sun--and also one moment in which we have the ability to change everything that makes us unhappy.  Every day, we try to pretend that we haven't perceived that moment, that it doesn't exist--that today is the same as yesterday and will be the same as tomorrow.  But if people really pay attention to their everyday lives, they will discover that magic moment.  It may arrive in the instant when we are doing something mundane, like putting our front-door key in the lock; it may lie hidden in the quiet that follows the lunch hour or in the thousand and one things that all seem the same to us.  But that moments exists--a moment when all the power of the stars becomes a part of us and enables us to perform miracles. 
Joy is sometimes a blessing, but it is often a conquest.  Our magic moment helps us to change and sends us off in search of our dreams.  Yes, we are going to suffer, we will have difficult times, and we will experience many disappointments--but all of this is transitory; it leaves no permanent mark.  And one day we will look back with pride and faith at the journey we have taken.
Pitiful is the person who is afraid of taking risks.  Perhaps this person will never be disappointed or disillusioned; perhaps she won't suffer the way people do when they have a dream to follow.  But when that person looks back--and at some point everyone looks back--she will hear her heart saying, "What have you done with the miracles that God planted in your days?  What have you done with the talents God bestowed on you?  You buried yourself in a cave because you were fearful. . .  So this is your heritage:  the certainty that you wasted your life."
Pitiful are the people who must realize this.  Because when they are finally able to believe in miracles, their life's magic moments will have already passed.
(excerpt from By the River Piedra I Sat down and Wept, by Paulo Coehlo)

Nearly four years ago I read this novel and here is what I journaled the day I came upon that  passage.  "This is so descriptive of me. . . afraid.  Afraid of launching out into new ministry, new dreams.  And this pictures my ultimate fear;  that I will reach old age, not having pursued and lived my dreams/God's calling.  Only possessing the certainty that I wasted my life.  God, give me courage and discernment.  The latter to know what and where and how you desire we spend the rest of our life together.  The former to go for it."

I look back and see the demanding nature of my insecurity then--wanting to know what, how, when, why, and where before making a move. Today--this season of my life--I can honestly say I'm going for it.  And it feels pretty good.  Really good, actually.   I'm not suggesting that there's a new me and I now refer to myself  as Braveheart;  maybe Tentative Toes, which is to say that fear is still present, along with every other feeling contained on the universal feeling vocabulary list.  But I'm going for it.  We are going for it.  My wife and I are leaving our predictable and secure careers and heading to Honduras for a three month trial-basis to serve the poor.  We will be working with Mercy International, the mission base I have served on short-term mission trips the past 10 years.  We will then return home and they will evaluate us and we them, and a decision will be made as to long-term relocation.

We will leave around the first of March.  This has been years in the making, years in summoning the courage and trust to do this.  Years of clinging to the false security of our comfort zone.  But now we are going for it. 

You have to take risks, he said.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Painful Look in the Mirror

Depending on your background you might refer to it as The Lord's Supper.  Or the Eucharist.  Maybe Communion.  Our church does so once a month.  Typically, four people are asked  to serve and at the appropriate time they walk to the front of the sanctuary,  two standing on the left and two on the right, each couple holding a loaf of bread and a chalice of wine.  This  morning before our worship service began, our pastor asked my wife and me if we would be one of the couples and we agreed to do so and then proceeded to take our seats as the service began. 

Our sanctuary is long and narrow.  Consequently, any movement or commotion is seen by all.  There is one guy who attends and obviously is  not of the same socio-economic status as most of us and simply doesn't fit in (you know, the kind that Jesus loves).  We had a guest speaker and he was delivering the sermon and the misfit who was sitting about three rows from the front and in the middle of the row decided to get up and leave the sanctuary.  He couldn't squeeze by several people so they had to stand up and let him out of the aisle.  He ambled to the back of the sanctuary.  He does this all the time.  Interfering and distracting.  I mumbled something silently and there was good reason for doing it silently.  The speaker continued.  A few minutes later the misfit (you know, the kind Jesus didn't judge) returned, but decided he wanted to sit in the very front pew.  He took his time and we all saw that he plopped himself down in the front pew.  Apparently, he became disenchanted with the view and wanted his former seat back, so he got up, walked back a few rows and the couple had to get up in order for him to resume his initial position. As the speaker continued I impulsively muttered--quietly but not silently--"Would you just sit down!"  (You know, something Jesus would say.)  The speaker continued and eventually completed his homily without further interruption.   And the misfit was now off my radar.

The time came to celebrate and honor the Eucharist.  My wife and I walked up front as did the other couple and two lines formed as the entire congregation waited to partake.  Slowly, one after another approached and as they took a piece of bread from my wife she said to each individual, "This is the body of Christ broken for you."  I, in turn, held the chalice and as each person dipped their morsel of bread I said, "This is the blood of Christ shed for you.  Go in peace."   I'm not paying attention to the line; I'm simply seeing the person who is now in front of me to receive the blessing, as one after another files by.  I find the misfit standing before me with his piece of bread in his hand.  As his eyes peer into mine I find myself ashamed and convicted of my judgmental attitude.  If I had possessed the moral courage I would and should have said to him, "I should be asking for forgiveness from you; you should be standing before me and I should be the one dipping the bread in the chalice you hold."  My cowardice and ego kept me from saying any such thing. Who was I to be administering this holy sacrament?  Who am I to cast myself in a superior role and look down on this person whom I regard as inferior?   

I could barely make eye contact with him as I said to him,  "This is the blood of Christ shed for you.  Go in peace."

You know, something Jesus would say.