When Heads Bend Down


This world talks a lot about keeping your head up. In songs. In quotes. In serious conversations with friends. In casual conversations with baristas. Sometimes the phrase is meant to encourage. Other times it’s used as awkward conversation filler -- an uncomfortable response to a tmi story you weren’t prepared to hear from a person you don't know well enough to hear it from... Wow...er...damn...well, yeahman, keep your head up.

Keep your head up. It’s what we’re supposed to do, right?

Keep our heads up. Keep on fighting. Keep on striving.

I want to tell you a secret. <lowers voice> Some of the most beautiful things in this world happen when heads bend down.

Do you think I mean when we bow our heads to pray? I don't.

Well, I mean, YES. Beautiful, mystical things happen when we pray.

BUT ALSO I mean something else…

Sometimes it’s a small dark head bent over a beloved dying dog, lips speaking soft musical words in an Asian tongue. The words are sorrowful, but you can hear love’s voice singing through them.

Sometimes it’s a large gray head bent over a tiny white-haired figure in a wheelchair, deep voice reciting a Latin prayer he learned long ago in Catholic school. He's crying and his hand shakes as he strokes her arm, but he is very, very gentle.

Sometimes it’s a young mother’s head bent over a baby, she is crooning to him as she nurses, he is gazing up at her with big blue eyes. A little fist pokes out of his blanket; fingers slowly open and he touches her warm brown skin.

Or a young father’s head bent down over a little-girl-head, his daddy-hands struggling to gather wild, fuzzy curls into a tidy ponytail “on TOP, Daddy. On TOP.”

Sometimes it’s the baby boy now full grown, bending over an elderly mother in bed – he now caring for her as tenderly as she did when he was that long-ago child; she now gazing up at him with her sky-blue eyes. A frail hand slips out from under the blankets, she slowly raises it and lays it upon his cheek.

Family over family. Teachers over students. Nurses over patients. Vets over pets. On and on it goes...

Beautiful acts occur when heads bend down.

I think Jesus knew about the magic of the Head Bent Down. He must have; He did it so often.

Over a crippled woman. A man by the pool at Bethesda. A child convulsing on the ground. A girl lying sick in bed (Talitha koum!). A leper on his knees. Lazareth dead in the tomb.

Jesus bent His head down and wrote in the sand to save a woman from being stoned to death, and He bent down and spit on the ground to make a man see.

And on that last day, He bent His head down from His place on the cross, looked at US and --

and --

and He saw something there that made Him say,

Forgive them.



It IS important to keep our heads up to face our challenges and see our brothers and sisters and our GOD…

But I think we’re at our very very best when our heads are bent down.

For a year I’ve told you to reach out. It’s good advice. But today, Bend your head down first.THEN reach out.

Bend your head down, over the homeless man lying on the sidewalk, the girl sick in her bed, the senior who needs a little help getting up.

Bend your head down, over the unhappy coworker seated at her desk, over restless children hopping up and down, over teenagers with scowly faces. over pets with wagging tails.

Bend your head DOWN and SEE.

And don’t be surprised if when you bend your head down you find GOD gazing up at you.