I’m quite skillful at filling boxes. Somewhere between the introduction and the conclusion of a conversation, I have already stuffed the appropriate box. Because there are so many boxes in which to fill with judgement—liberal, conservative, in-crowd, out-crowd, curvy, slender. It sometimes takes as little as a nod in the right lighting, or a statement about cats for me to sufficiently stuff the proper box.
And then it’s done.
That person remains crammed into a tiny box that I have set aside for them, their identity permanently seared into my brain with their respective label.
But it’s the box labeled “lost” that I have the most trouble with. That’s where I stow the most fragile of souls—the ones that are beyond saving, the ones lost to decay and corruption and wrongdoing. That’s the box that seems the most hopeless, the one that seems the most stagnant.
And I see that box so evident in today’s reading. Zacchaeus was a tax collector, the most hated of men. (Luke 19) But Jesus, He peered beyond that label and sought out Zacchaeus’ heart. The box that he was adhered to for so long was irrelevant to God. And that’s where real conversion takes place—when we are free to simply be.
Sometimes I think we see in black and white. Our brothers and sisters float through our minds with labels attached to each of them. But the truth is, we’re a piece of art in motion. Our brushstrokes are never quite finished, and there is always hope.
"For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” (Luke 19:10) And isn’t that so hopeful for all of us? Because we’re all a little lost.
Have a good talk with yourself and get out of that box you think you're in. While you're at it, let your sister out, too.
Brittany Calavitta is an enthusiastic advocate for a good book, strong coffee, and a hopeful heart. After battling years of infertility, she and her husband welcomed their first child on September 11, 2016. You can find out more about her here.