The Wrong Samaritan: The Samaritan Series, Pt. 2

This is the second in a series of unconventional retellings of the parable of the Good Samaritan. Read Part One, The God Samaritan here.

*****

Wrong place, wrong time, I believe, is the phrase most folks would use to describe my present predicament. Not that I can tell you much about how I came into my present predicament. There was a violent hot pain on the back of my head, then warm and sticky on my neck. Then peaceful dark.

I awake, terror and pain clawing me into consciousness and then rocketing me blissfully back into the dark. Later, the first thing I am aware of is the taste of burnt iron on my lips. The one eye that can still open and the arm that isn’t broken quickly inventory my injuries. Most of the blood has dried, which means I have been out for awhile. I can’t move my legs without rending pain tearing through them. I also notice my pants are missing, which probably means my wallet is as well.

At some point, all the movement wracks me waves of uncontrolled nausea. Once the vomiting stops, it is apparent I am, for all practical purposes, paralyzed, and quite likely, this prickly grass, slick with my own bodily fluids, will be my death bed.

Like I said, wrong place, wrong time.

But then the right person passes by. I hear him before I can see him, singing a u2 song to himself. When he comes into my field of vision, he is singing loudly, earbuds dangling stylishly, carrying an Occupy Wall St placard and sporting a LGBT pride flag. He is definitely the right person. I, myself, have been a part of the very movement he is headed for and I am a card-carrying member of the Gay-Straight Alliance. If anyone will have sympathy for a victim of violence, it will be a fellow pacifist.

He is the right person, but he fails to even see me, and he certainly can’t hear my cries for help.

Despair began to creep in, until I overhear a voice I recognize from interfaith gatherings. It is the local Episcopal priest, who, horrified, comes to my side. At last, the right person. I mumble for help, and he lifts a cup of cold water to my lips. With great regret, though, he explains that he must leave immediately for he is late for a flight to a massive disaster area in an impoverished country. He is to aid in the relief efforts, and a local newspaper reporter is meeting him at the airport. But he will make sure to call for help as soon as he makes it through security. Hold tight, he says, and then offers a quick prayer for safety, traveling mercies and the disaster victims. I assume he includes me among the victims.

He is the right person, but has a greater, more visible good to do.

I have never been a fatalist, but there’s nothing like an unexpected fate to change one’s outlook on life. And death. I’d like to report that at the edge between this life and the next reveals some fantastic truths and deeper meanings about life. But all I can think about is how I forgot to mow the lawn. And that the dishes are dirty.

My end-of-life reverie is interrupted by a song from my childhood with some atrocious theology. So it is my grandfather who will meet me at the gates, singing about being washed in the blood of the lamb, an ironic welcome give that my garments do indeed seem washed in blood.

But I do not die. Instead, two very real hands are gently probing my body. He thinks he can move me. He is wearing a “Deport Obama” T-shirt, pinned with an oversized Newt for President button, and he asks if it was the blacks who did this to me. He hears they are all in gangs, those that aren’t just mooching off the government. Then the man wonders whether it might have been the Mexicans. They are just as bad he says, here in the country illegally, stealing jobs, refusing to learn English.

I can’t speak, but my brain screams, “Wrong person!”

He takes me back to his home, where Fox News is constantly blaring, except when he switches to the 700 Club. He cooks for me and feeds me by hand, while regaling me about divine judgement through natural disasters for national sins from socialism to homosexuality to women’s lib. He explains everyone’s agenda. And how I would never have been beaten up like this had these un-American and un-Christian agendas never infiltrated our God-inspired culture. I must listen to this for two days, fuming in silence because speech causes so much pain.

My first words are the only two words I can think to say, after two days of listening to his sacralized hate speech.

“Fuck you,” I manage through my split lips and chipped teeth.

Wrong place, wrong time, wrong person.

The language shocks him, and I’m glad for it. But after a moment’s pause, he holds up some homemade soup to my lips. I open them and sip. He doesn’t talk much after that, but continues to care for me. I think he senses how agitated I am.

When I am well-enough to move, he offers to take me to the doctor and drive me home. He says he thinks I’ll heal better some place else. I don’t have health insurance. He drives me to the doctor. When I am finished, the receptionist explains that I will need to be seen again soon. When I begin to protest, she explains that my brother has offered to pay all the bills. He’s not my brother, I retort.

I catch a bus to my house, eager to avoid the charitable bigot. When I open the door, I walk into the kitchen. There is a note on the counter. Written on it is his number, a standing offer to help and his hope that I will one day come to Jesus.

That’s when I notice that the dishes are clean. I part the curtains and look out the window. The grass has been mown.


About David R. Henson

David Henson received his Master of Arts from Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, after receiving a Lilly Grant for religious education for journalists. He ordained in the Episcopal Church as a priest. He is a father of two young sons and the husband of a medical school student.

  • Sue

    Whoa, David. I was looking forward to this post, and totally expecting something much more predictable. But this is shockingly great, and has healing power, tons of it. I identify myself as post-evangelical, and with that comes a tendency to judge the rest of my family who “doesn’t get it.” But I know, and God knows, that their love is sincere and they are walking it out in the best way they know how, at the present.

    • Sue

      I mean, of course, the shock value is great, not that I’m shocked by how great this whole post is :-)

  • Mark Sandlin

    Nailed it.
    Thank you.

  • sgtgwn

    You just completely answered a question I had about yesterday’s post. Thank you.

  • Ellen Ross

    Wow. Thank you for making me think with this one.

  • nathan

    wow, this is pretty kick ass. you do mind if i use it in my sermon this week?

  • generation4Him

    Oh my word, you have me LOLOLOLOL’ing….. you capture every nuance so well ROFL, “he asks if it was the blacks who did this to me. He hears they are all in gangs, those that aren’t just mooching off the government.” Hilarious.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/davidhenson David R. Henson

      I think I wrote this after a family reunion so it was all fresh for me.

  • generation4Him

    David – now you have to write one from the perspective of an evangelical fundamentalist, who is stunned that the “real christians” don’t help him and some gay priest does.

  • Mark Hilditch

    Stunning.

  • Sandra

    Oh, scary! This is one version I did not want to read! You cast my preferred Other in the Samaritan role. Yikes!

    Here is the version I wrote a couple years ago (but yours challenges me! so I like it better) http://chroniclesofachristianheretic.blogspot.com/2011/04/what-is-samaritan.html

  • David Michael

    I’ve retold this story to my family, with a gay man as the Samaritan… but wow. The guy in your story would definitely be my Samaritan.

  • gallandria

    wow. Most of my family is like the good Samaritan in this story. I definitely did NOT see this coming. This is fantastic. I sometimes find myself getting so fed up with them and their, well, fundamentalism, that I do lose sight of the fact that they’re still good people. Thank you for reminding me and making me think :)


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