Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My Inner Peter

It's Lent, and so, a season to reflect on the end of Jesus' life.

They were sitting around a fire. Sort of like a campfire. It was the final night of Jesus' life.

And Peter was there. You know, The Rock of the Church, and the thoroughly ordinary, all in one. He was by that campfire too. Eyes nervously darting around. Not willing to look anyone in the face, at least for very long, for fear the expression on his own face might give away the feelings that were churning around inside him. Much like those feelings that swirl around inside us all at times, when we know we have been self-absorbed, let others down, lied, or acted like a fool with people we love. I do those things lots.

That Peter. Like me. The one that denied Christ three times. The one who was a general disappointment.

The other day, I came across this, from the Gospel of Luke:

60Peter replied, "Man, I don't know what you're talking about!" Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 61The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: "Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times." 62And he went outside and wept bitterly.
I am familiar with this story, and have read it many times, and skipped right over one little piece - right there, in the middle.

"The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter."

I have been stuck there now, thinking about that look, for several days.

What was in that look; how would his gaze have looked to me? Could I have sensed what he was thinking? How would it have made me feel; would I have felt the warmth coming to my face, if I had received that gaze from him?

I asked a very wise theologian about that look, just the other day. His response was, "I would like to think that look was the same look on the face of the Father in the prodigal son story." Perhaps.

Then I wondered if there might have been something else in that look; very different emotions that we have heard about Jesus that put us more on edge. Like the time he got fed up with smart guys. And probably with humanity a little too, perhaps. He got mad on occasion, that Jesus.

And then I asked my wife what she thought of that look. Her response was similar to my own thoughts. "Maybe that look was full of a thousand different emotions". Exactly. Sadness, regret, understanding, empathy, frustration, anger, resignation, pity. How many human emotions are there? So many were likely contained in that look.

So, I am back to thinking about Peter, and what made him sit by that fire, and what made him deny the most important relationship in his young life.
And I am back to that look.

I think I have an Inner Peter.
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