Picture us as a group of people locked in a cage. Our daily needs of food and water are met through a hole in the side of the cage. The edges of that hole are razor sharp, but we need food, and so I reach through to pick up what I need, but I cut my arm in the process. Day after day, no matter how many ways I try it, I can’t pick up the food without getting cut.
People often mock me, tell me daily how wrong I’m doing it, and offer their advice of the right way to grab the food. But I can see the cuts on their arms, as fresh as mine. Others offer food for sale, I bought it once, but the soured portions were too small. They didn’t satisfy, and the seller insisted on more payment before he would part with any more food. If I want to eat, the cuts from the cage will be the price I have to pay.
One day somebody new arrives, they don’t offer advice, they visit with me. When they see me cut myself reaching for the food, they quietly reach into their bag and retrieve bandages. Carefully, they take hold of my arm; they look at the wound and make sure it’s not too deep. They bind it with gentle hands.
The next day they show up again. They ask me how my wounds are doing, and when I cut myself again getting today’s food, they retrieve the same bandages and tenderly wrap my arm again. Every day the same: I cut myself reaching for food, they treat the wounds. They clean them and check to make sure the old cuts are healing well. On days I can’t bear to reach through the hole, they share their own food with me. They talk with me as I lament the way things are. We become close friends.
Then one day, while they’re cleaning a fresh cut, I notice their arms, they have scars, but they’re long since healed. “Your arms,” I ask, “why don’t you have any cuts?” They reply, telling me they have a friend who gives them food for free. I’m skeptical, I’ve never heard of such a thing in this cage. They continue, “My friend has been giving me food for a while now, and you can see my cuts are all healed, in fact it was my friend who healed them, and that same friend has given me the bandages I’ve been using to treat your wounds.” “That’s not the way it works around here,” I insist. “What’s the catch?” “No catch,” the response. “Doesn’t sound right to me,” I say. “You should be careful”.
We continue like this for days. Weeks even. My friend doesn’t push the conversation about his friend, but he’s present every day; talking with me, caring for me, sharing his food. Always my friend has fresh food and bandages, but never does he reach through the hole in the cage. Never are there fresh cuts on his arms.
One day I slip while reaching through the hole, and cut myself badly; worse than I have in a long time. I break down while my friend cleans the wound. “I can’t do this anymore! It shouldn’t be this hard. Yet, you’re healthy, and you always have food and supplies – even this friend of yours has got to be better than this! Do you think you can introduce us?” “Absolutely,” he says. “Come walk with me.”
– Tyler Williams 2015