Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove: George and Me

Our friend Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove kicks off our new series of guest blogs with this update from Rutba House. We got up early on Easter morning to gather in the garden at Rutba House and celebrate the resurrection we'd been leaning toward all Lent long. It was warm enough to smell the soil and light enough to see the seedlings pushing up. "Was it a morning like this?" we sang, wondering aloud if the peace and quiet of that first Easter Sunday was shattered by the sound of graves coming open.

As much as we long for it, resurrection comes as an interruption. Clarence Jordan's words ring true:

"God raised Jesus, not as an invitation to us to come to heaven when we die, but as a declaration that he himself has now established permanent, eternal residence here on earth. He is standing beside us, strengthening us in this life. The good news of the resurrection of Jesus is not that we shall die and go home to be with him, but that he has risen and comes home with us, bringing all his hungry, naked, thirsty, sick prisoner brothers with him."

Indeed, Jesus is with us, and his brothers are with us, too. They have come home from prison to sleep on cousins' couches and spend their days scrounging for something to eat. Sometimes they join us for dinner; more often, one of them stops by alone and asks to make a sandwich. We catch up while he spreads mayonnaise on bread.

We wish we had more space—more time, more patience—to host these dear brothers. We do what we can. A few months ago, as Lent was just beginning, we welcomed our friend George. One year ago this week, George was shot, just four blocks up the street. The bullet that hit his neck lodged in his C-7 and paralyzed him from the chest down. For eight months, George lay on his back in a hospital bed. Most of the medical and social work professionals who worked with him said George would never live outside of an institution again.

But George said, “I’m gonna drive.”

After working hard in rehab, George came home to stay with us at Rutba House. With good medical care, determination, and the patient love of lots of friends, he’s made steady progress—getting out of bed, learning to use a wheel chair, even hoisting himself in and out of our family van. But all along, George has maintained, “I’m gonna drive.”

I believe he will. But here’s the exciting news: you can help make it happen. For National Mobility Awareness Month, there’s a contest. Three people will win a fully equipped, handicap accessible van. And the winners will be determined by the number of votes that each nominee gets by May 13th.

So here’s what we need you to do.

1) Click here to Vote for George. (Use the promo code “963″ to multiply your initial vote times five.)

2) Share this. Email it. Tweet it. Post it to Facebook. Holler at everyone in your office and ask them to help.

3) Vote Early, Vote Often. We’re getting a late start, but you can vote once every 24 hours until May 13th.

George thinks I’m a little crazy for thinking we can win this. And maybe I am. But if I’ve learned anything in our life here at Rutba House, it’s that the unimaginable is possible when people come together in the power of love.

As a matter of fact, that’s the only thing that makes our life here possible.

I’m glad for this chance to invite you to join us.

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove is the author of several books and maintains his blog, The Everyday Awakening, where he reports on signs of hope from his little corner of God’s quiet revolution. He lives at Rutba House in Walltown, NC.