Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pieces of the Whole

A telephone call yesterday- from a wonderful person whose faith is embodied most obviously in her work with battered and immigrant women in her city. Our first contact however many years ago, was through an international anti-nuclear initiative. This friend’s sense of compassionate justice is awesome, and paired with an unfailing ability to cut to the essential, it makes her a real force to be reckoned with - believe me! Usually our contact is by e-mail, so when she called yesterday I knew it had to be something serious. Uncharacteristically for her it took a while.

‘.... about your e-mail this morning, I’m finding myself with .... a certain....struggle to make this young man the central focus of my prayers for the next week. With so much suffering, so much injustice, so much inequity in the World.’ She fell silent.

We both were, until I asked a question.

‘When you’re out there in the middle of the night, rescuing one of your women who’s waiting on a street corner with the little she’s managed to grab before fleeing what she thought of as her home, where’s your focus?’

‘On her of course,’ she told me after a moment, surprised.

I waited hoping she’d make the connection herself.

‘And what about all the other battered women in the world at that moment, when you’re scooping her up & bringing her to your shelter?’

It took a while.

‘... At that moment she’s the only one I can do anything about....’

A little background:

Earlier that morning I’d sent out an e-mail to an incredibly diverse group of generous, caring individuals, each with a faith practice which in one way or another amazes me or gives me very real hope. I call them my ‘Giants’ and believe me from what I know of each one of them they are remarkable beings and truly living blessings.

I’d written about one of those living blessings. A remarkable Episcopal priest, who has become incredibly dear to me over the months and years we’ve each been bumping around on the internet. A no-shit lady who, with two feet planted firmly in a faith formed by her great love of God and of the liturgy and office of our Church, she is one of the most.... muscled Christians I know. And yup, you guessed it, our first contacts were because this priest, living in the ‘South,’ in a diocese where women priests are still a very small minority had very publically taken the cause of the full inclusion of LGBT lives within our Church as her own.

This same ‘priest’ (and yes I’m proudly flouting that word at the moment) and her beloved spouse, clergy himself, in the last months took into their home a gentle, sweet young man whose only offense was fleeing the violence of his upbringing and being caught as an illegal in the U.S. of A. In the next seven days, that young man, Juan, has to undergo two judical hearings which could see him seized, and thrown into jail until officials have filled a planeload with ‘illegals to be returned to Mexico.

‘What’s really going on here?’ I asked my friend on the phone.

Long silence.

‘Overwhelming at times isn’t it,’ I eventually offered; only stating the obvious.

‘How about overwhelming most of the time’ she eventually admitted with just the faintest hint of what could have been an ironic chuckle.

‘Are you saying.... I’m... depressed’ she eventually asked, pain and perhaps fear choking her voice.

‘Nope’ I teased her.

‘Nope?’ just the faintest hint of.... anger/frustration.

‘First off, we’re how many miles apart- physically? Secondly I wasn’t there for the last week, the last month of your very busy life.... What I am suggesting is that my e-mail came at a rather inopportune time and because of everything else you might have confused the lense for the picture.’

‘I need... a break... It’s been more than two months since I’ve even had a week-end at the country place.’

‘Sounds to me like you know what you need.’

‘Yeah, but-‘

‘Hey, there’s a professional staff at the shelter-‘

‘Whose hours we’ve had to cut back- yet again’


‘You’re right.... I’m just the president, I’ve got to let the whole organization-‘

I cut her off, eager to reassure her she’d done nothing wrong, as long as she’s got in touch with her own need, her own state of being before they became toxic for herself or her clients.

Long silence.

‘And what was that about a lense?’ she eventually asked.

‘When you’re leaving your bed in the middle of the night and racing off to that street corner to pick up that terrified, perhaps injured woman-‘

‘- I had a call just a couple of nights ago.’

‘At that moment she’s her own unique history and situation, but at that moment for you she’s also every victim of injustice or violence in the world- the only one you can do anything about, to use your words.... until your next meeting, fundraiser or protest, ‘I added.

‘And all you were asking was for prayers- for your friend, for that young man- what’s his name again?’

‘Juan’ his name sounding like a prayer.


‘And all you were feeling was the overwhelming injustice, violence; blindness and indifference Juan’s situation embodies.’

‘That priest friend of yours must be really something...’

‘She is, and so are you... All I’m asking, is when you can, carry Juan in your heart/mind- if only his name.’

‘But is it enough?’

‘Who knows... that’s where the Holy Spirit comes in... all we can do is open our hearts, as you do every day, offer them up that they might resonate with God’s love, sort of like those solar cookers our Church is distributing in Africa-‘

‘Solar cookers?’

‘Never mind- another story for another day. But about that ‘overwhelmed,’ sounds like you need to get yourself organized for a very long week-end with Clarke and the dogs- in the country.’

‘I don’t know, he’s kind of busy these days too- with work.’

‘Three days- four max,’ I persisted. ‘All you can do is ask.’

‘I’ll ask... oh, and about Juan- I won’t forget.’

‘That’s all I’m asking,’ I reminded her.

Oh, and this morning, shortly after 5:30 a.m. there was another call- from ‘P’. Overwhelmed, in another way, by the love and support he’s felt ever since his friend the Episcopal priest called him at work yesterday, to tell him to check out my latest post.

‘I sat there, tears streaming down my face, not even realizing my office door was still open- and I’ve never felt so loved, so supported. To think, there are good people out there, and they know about me- if only as ‘P’, and they care. I can feel it.’

‘P’ also had a very insightful gift for ‘E’ who shared his post- about ‘the people of God’ rather than the monolith of the institutional Church being where ‘God is really happening.’ I promised to pass it along.

And one last word from ‘P’ ‘-whoever they are, wherever they are, tell them thank-you. Tell them I love them, I feel so loved and blessed- because of them. ‘

Juan- carry him in your hearts, on your breath, through out your day please. The decisive date is Monday, December 7th- the Deportation hearing. Thank-you.


1 comment:

it's margaret said...

Blessings on you, David.