Loving well. Some days it seems easy. My heart feels open, light, and the problems, straightforward enough. Other days loving well is crazy hard. My stories, my hurts and fears catch up with me, and I close up, pop my head into my shell and greet any softness encountered with rough, hard edges. And, that's just my stuff. Some days loving well is crazy hard because the problems are crazy, complicated messes.

Where are we to begin, when loving well is hard? 

One of the best love stories I've heard was told by Jesus. We call it, "The Good Samaritan." For many of us, we know this text, or at least, think we know it. We’ve heard the gist of it: Go out. Be kind. Do good. Essentially, be a good Samaritan. The term, and thus the story, have been so watered down we've stopped noticing its provocative plot, its exceptional loving well wisdom, including how it says to begin.

In the story, a man from Jerusalem falls into "the hands of robbers" and is stripped, beaten and left half dead. Two other men, who see the bruised and beaten man on the roadside, "pass by on the other side." Then, a third man, a Samaritan, passes by and chooses differently: he decides to "come near." The Samaritan starts by drawing near. (Read the whole story here.)

This may seem simple, boring even. But, drawing near can be, often is, crazy hard. Cultural and ideological barriers, not to mention geography, time, energy, our personal wounds, keep us at arms length. And to love well, proximity is a must. We must draw close enough to see another's face, to hear her story, to feel his spirit. 

This is the idea behind WAYfinding's new speaker series called "Table Conversations With A...." In it, we'll hear from individuals whose stories are in some way unfamiliar to our own.  We'll listen, reflect and ask questions, practice empathy, and hopefully, walk away having been changed from drawing near. 


This week I invite you to love by drawing near. I invite you to mark your calendars for "Table Conversations With A... Millennial, Black Man" on Wednesday, March 4 at Flat 12 Brewery (414 N. Dorman St.). Doors open, libations at 6:30p; story-telling at 7:00p. James C. Wilson will be our guest. James is a native of the Martindale Brightwood area on Indianapolis' east side. His was a childhood consumed with loss, drugs and violence, eventually landing him in prison. While there, mentors helped him change his outlook, and he began preparing for a new life once released. Today, James is a father, and President and CEO of Circle Up Indy, an organization helping youth - and whole communities - resist violence through mentorship, law enforcement dialogues, job training, peace festivals, and more! We are honored to have James as our first Table Conversations story-teller. Please RSVP here, or on Facebook.  

If you cannot make it next week, consider how else you can draw near to another's story. Articles, books and documentaries are good places to start, but eventually, you'll need to take it "live." Maybe there's a similar event happening in your city? An organization with which you can become involved? A person to whom you can take a few extra minutes listening? Be brave, draw near, love well.