"Love is a harsh and dreadful thing to ask of us, but it is the only answer."--Dorothy Day


A Glimmer.

A few weeks ago, I was asked to write the communion meditation to follow a sermon at CCfB called Love and Concern. I was coming off an incredible night at work and so wrote about some of the people I work with/for.
I have come to believe that all you really need is to survive is a safety net. Most of the people that I find on the street are people who have no one. They lose one piece of their life's puzzle, pieces we all generally take for granted, and everything falls apart. I met a man a few months ago, who is homeless only because he lost his ID. Losing his ID lost him his job, lost him his housing, left him with nowhere to go, and sleeping at the bottom of some stairs in Queens. This man essentially does not exist. No one knows he's there, or that he is in such need, or that he slipped through the cracks so, so easily. He is an immigrant, has survived a war. Has no where, no one to go home to, and so has no home. He is left in limbo, knowing very well that no one should have to live like he is living. Another man I met recently has fallen victim to the same problem, but in a different world. He has lost his partner of 35 years to cancer. And now he too is homeless. He has enough money to get by, and a roof over his head, but the person that made it home is no longer there. He has no one to take care of him when he is sick, or to listen to him when he is sad, or angry, frightened, or excited.

I believe we have all encountered such people in our daily lives, or have maybe felt this ourselves. The moment you step off the plane, or park your moving truck, and know that you are just one in a city of millions. Or maybe in a child who has suddenly been moved to this country, without any knowledge of language or culture. Or in a young person growing up in poverty, feeling that there is no way out. Or someone suddenly single after they thought that part of their life was over. Or suddenly faced with an illness that threatens to take their life, or that of someone they love. And suddenly we are each left standing alone, wondering what to do next. Knowing that it should not be this way. Knowing that we should not go unprotected, uncared for.

But when we stop to catch our breath, we remember that are not unprotected. Though it is at times obscured by our panic, we are covered by the hand of God, given shelter in these times. Given community among God’s people to know that we are not alone. And we know that in the end, we are covered by grace, and will be given a place of rest.
I must confess to you, that sometimes when I write these seemingly inspired things, I do it really just hoping that it will be true. As evidenced by my previous post, I've been struggling a bit lately. I was discussing this last week with my logical voice in Queens, and he told me that I need to quit my job and go work in a bank. I have realized that I get to a point of overwhelm about every 6 months. Due to the ridiculous amount of work I've been doing lately, I lasted about 9 months this time. I get to the point where cannot escape all of the trauma and chaos I experience with people all the time, and where I cannot see an end to it. I begin to selfishly and whole-heartedly hope for the apocalypse, because really....could it be any worse? But then, this week, a glimmer of hope.

On Sunday night, I got a call from a man living in the neighborhood of a client that I had been looking for for a couple of weeks. This man lives in the neighborhood and gets his coffee everyday from the Dunkin' Donuts where my client stands outside for most of his days. They had been speaking, and my client had mentioned that I had been trying to help him and asked that this man give me a call. So I get this call, and my world is rocked. Part of overwhelm is coloured by martyrdom..."I'm the only who cares. No one else is trying to do anything. These people will die...DIE...if I, and I alone, don't help them." But then, someone, whose job it is not to help people in this man's situation, calls and wants to help me help him. New York will never cease to amaze me.

***DISCLAIMER***I realize that some of you might be puzzled/bothered by the fact that I am really excited, rather than freaked out, at the prospect of a random man getting my phone number from a homeless person. Just know that this is neither the most dangerous, nor the craziest, thing that I have done in the course of my job. Fear not, all work takes place in well-lit public spaces with co-workers nearby.

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