There are two kinds of people in the world—those who squeeze the life right out of us and those who give life lavishly. Two kinds. (Okay, maybe three, counting all of us who have had our moments in each camp.)

I’ve heard that pythons wrap themselves around their prey and tighten their grip with each of the prey’s exhales, squeezing the life right out. That’s just horrid, but we’ve all likely had our python moments, both as the squeeze-ee (victim) and embarrassingly, as the squeeze-er.

On the other hand, there are the life-givers. Let’s call them the paramedics.

Thomas Merton once had a defining paramedic moment. “In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut [now Fourth and Muhammad Ali Boulevard], in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness.…Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts…the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes.”

I’m guessing that most everyone would prefer to be a life-giver, but we get stuck in the throes of the python. We get stuck in our pain and shame, or maybe one or the other. Personally, I think God wants to spring us free of that grip.

He’s been called the Great Physician, but I don’t think he would mind if we were to think of him as the Great Paramedic.

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