Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sacrificial Love

We've been reading The Shack at St. Barnabas for Lent. There are two groups going - one is meeting on Friday afternoons and the other on Tuesday nights. There are issues with the book, of course. It's a novel, for one thing - though there are those who are trying to make it theological reality. There are other folks getting all bent out of shape because they think the author is trying to make a theological case, forgetting the magical word NOVEL.

But that's not really my point, here.

Early in The Shack, the author tells the story of a Native American legend of an Princess who throws herself off a cliff to save her people. (You can read it here: It's the origin story for Multnomah Falls in Oregon.) This causes another character to draw a parallel between the Indian Princess and Jesus. Tonight, in our discussion, we talked about that kind of sacrificial love. It can be a hard concept to get our head around.

Then, I got home from church tonight and started watching House reruns with Michelle. (House is our new TV addiction, these days. Despite the name, which gives nothing away, it's another medical drama.) In one of tonight's episodes, a nine year old girl with terminal cancer develops some odd symptoms and the team spends a great deal of time trying to sort out what the underlying problem is.

This kid is plucky. She speaks the medical lingo. She likes her chemo port because it saves her all the needle sticks (her words). Whatever piece of grim news comes down the pike, she takes it totally in stride. She talks about the fact that she will likely die young without showing much emotion. At one point, the doctors decide that her lack of fear is one of her symptoms.

Dr. House goes to talk to her - and discovers that she is not unafraid. She is deeply tired of being sick and afraid of dying. BUT, she loves her mom (who raised the kid alone; the dad left when he found out the mom was pregnant). Turns out that the whole plucky demeanor was a front, designed to protect her mom. In the moment when the kid broke down and admitted how deeply afraid she was and stated clearly that she was going to do it anyway because she loved her mom, it hit me that I was looking at another picture of sacrificial love.

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