The Head

Travel can be enlightening when encountering a lifestyle so different from the one accustomed to at home, such as having to become consumed with searching for the basics of water, food, shelter, transportation, and someplace to exchange money.

My brother and I had a vexing—no, haunting— experience when traveling in the Amazon region. At one point along the way we both stopped in amazement, as though we were looking at an optical illusion, for there on the sidewalk was a head, a human head with a body smaller than a box of cereal and bereft of arms, legs, stomach, and clothing, but the mouth held a pencil used to draw flowers on a small piece of paper. We left some money in a small bowl placed alongside and walked away wondering. Wondering at how much of what consumed our daily lives would apply to this person. Wondering at how we complain over such comparatively insignificant things; wondering at what this person’s response would be were we to approach and relate how someone had offended us or how our Christmas celebration might be a bit slim this year. The head was disturbing and mysterious; his image would not leave us. This person with nothing had found life tolerable; he expressed a beauty within through simple art. In contrast, many with a multitude of worldly attributes, accomplishments, and possessions cannot stand life. The head was a good example of how life is not found outside man but within.

I began to ask myself how much of what is taught in Christendom would apply to this person. I was left with the conclusion that if what we teach cannot be accomplished by this person, it is not simple enough to apply to anyone else. The deep life comes through faith and the activity of the soul and spirit, not the activity of the body. All doing is to be the result of faith.

--Michael Wells, My Weakness for His Strength Volume One, Day 323