Dig Deeper

On a late Spring morning, I was in downtown Ottawa. I had arrived early for a meeting. Across the street from where I parked my care was St. Patrick’s Basilica. It’s a stately and majestic stone building; originally constructed in 1855 to serve as the English speaking church for the Ottawa area. Today, the grounds are lined with a black iron rod fencing. The lawns are immaculately cared for and as a result of the cooler, rainy spring, they are a lush deep green. In the middle of the grass, On the right side of the century and half stone steps there is a monument of a Celtic cross. On the lawn, to left side of the steps is a statue of Jesus. It is simple, all white washed, he’s wearing a robe and his hands are turned, as though he’s welcoming passers by. 

Amid the bustling of the city, the stopping and starting of hundreds of cars headed to who knows where, it’s a serene picture, for those who choose. 
As I was standing in front of the stone steps I noticed to my left, a man, a black man. He was a shorter man, grey grizzled beard and faded ball cap. He wore a too small jacket and his pants were stained and well worn. 
I watched him as he walked, not out of concern or pity, surprisingly. Rather I watched him out of intrigue. His pace slowed as he approached the place along the fence line, where the statue of Jesus stood. He stopped. Turned. Took off his hat. His finger traced the shape of a cross on his forehead. Then he also opened his arms and palms turned toward Jesus, he began to talk. I was too far away to hear what he was saying, but I was held in place by what I was seeing. 
When he finished, he put his hat back on and turned and resumed his walk down the sidewalk. As he passed me, I stopped him and said, “That’s a great way to start a day, by talking to Jesus.”
He said, “Yes. I do this everyday. He has helped me so much, so I talk to him everyday.”
“It’s obvious to me that Ottawa in not your home town.  Would you mind telling me about your home country and why you talk to Jesus everyday?”
He said, “I come from the small African nation of Togo.  For many years we have suffered hardship.  I started to turn to Islam, looking for answers from God, but then one night, in my dream, Jesus appeared, and said to find me, you need to dig deeper.”

He continued...“Then a few days later, as I was walking I came to spot and looked down at the ground. It seemed that this was the place. So I began to dig deeper.  As I dug down, I found a rock, and it looked like Jesus.  So I took the rock out of the ground, cleaned it off, and then I painted it.  It was the only thing I took to the refugee camp and when it was time to come to Canada, it was only Jesus and me.”
…  “I am so thankful to God for his provision of a bed, safety, health care and the occasional meal. That’s why I talk to Jesus.”
I said, "I appreciate you sharing this with me; that’s very inspiring…you do know that you can talk to Jesus at any time and any where?  Your faith in him seems very genuine. He is our way, our truth and our life." 
He said, "Yes. I know this.  But talking to Jesus here, is something that I can do.  When I do, he helps through each day, and reminds me to treat people well, help others, be kind – and you know…he looks after me."
And with a last few words exchanged, we shook hands and parted ways.  One of us learning more than other. 
At the end of one of Jesus' sermons, recorded in the Gospel of Luke, he concludes by saying these words: 

"Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built."  (Luke 6:46-48)

Jesus ends this message differently than the he did the sermon on the mount in the book of Matthew.  Jesus ends this sermon with the reminder to dig deep, in order to build up.  Jesus reminds us that storms of life will come.  By digging deeper, we prepare to persevere through the storms, the ones that are predictable and the ones that just arise out of nowhere. 

Jesus said it, but a common man of uncommon faith has helped me to never forget it.