I don’t offend easily, but Gabriela made me wince almost daily. She was one of my GED students, a single mom, dirt poor, with a nasty attitude. She made Debbie Downer look like a Mouseketeer. If I wasn’t mindful, I’d catch myself hoping she wouldn’t show up for class. She was foul-mouthed, disruptive, and abrasive—to put it mildly. One morning, Gabriela told me she would be absent the following day because she’d been asked to sing at a funeral. I was on the verge of waxing indignant and telling her that wasn’t funny. I applied my mental emergency brake and remembered that on those rare occasions when she did smile, it was one of the prettiest things you ever saw. Gabriela said she used to sing in her church and these folks asked her to do it again. I asked her what she was going to sing. Her favorite song: “Victory in Jesus.”
Gabriela, of all people, was being called on to bring comfort and hope to a grieving family. And she said yes.
Anymore, whenever I’m about to judge someone harshly—and even in the midst of doing so—that tune comes to mind (♫ “And then I cried, ‘Dear Jesus, come and heal my broken spirit’…”♪) along with this quote from Saint Francis of Assisi: “I have been all things unholy. If God can work through me, he can work through anyone.”
Someone else will have to cast the first stone. I’ve been disqualified.