Here’s what’s happened in the past week: One of my co-workers handed me $100 for paint and cleaning supplies. Another filled the chair in my office with three gallons of paint and a smoke detector. A couple promised $200 for eyeglasses. A committee at the Presbytery voted to give us whatever is left in their budget, close to $400. Someone else mailed me a gas card. We received a total of $540, plus the promises of close to $600 mentioned above. And a church voted to make a contribution to our bail fund. And that doesn’t include the wish list items people have told me they are buying. I am overwhelmed with gratitude and awe. You people are amazing.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, there is a noisy furnace in the central room that is so filthy the room gets full of dust particles every time it gets turned on, and the person who sleeps in that room is developing a cough. When I promised to bring a fire extinguisher the next time I came, the response, instead of the usual “you don’t have to do that,” was a direct and urgent, “When?” I went and got it and returned that afternoon. But the mildew in the bathroom has been bleached and scrubbed, and there is now a toilet seat. (Can I tell you how angry all this makes me?) Soon we will have a painting day, and everybody will stay at my house overnight to get away from the fumes.
Speaking of my house, that’s where we will celebrate our Christmas Eve Mass. You are most welcome to join us at 4 pm for Mass, and to stay for dinner afterwards. Send me a note if you’re coming and I’ll send you my address and directions. We will also have Christmas morning Mass at St Joe’s at the usual time, 11 am (at Michael’s request!).
In the midst of all this giving and righteous anger and squalor, it is very important to note that, terrible as the situation of injustice is, there is love in that little house. There is togetherness galore (that’s the plus side of living so close together ... the downside is a painful lack of privacy). The more time I spend with these beloved friends, the more my respect grows. I am learning to slow down, and to let go of anxieties I didn’t realize I had. I am learning to recognize how much my own culture is in need of healing. I am one of the learners, here. Much more is being taught than English and literacy, and Spanish for me: the learning, the giving, goes both ways.
This coming week, we celebrate the coming of God, who came bursting into human history in a stable of all places. I think of that all the time: this little house is probably not so far from the kind of place where Jesus was born. The Spanish phrase for “to give birth” is “dar luz,” to give LIGHT. Another thing I think about is how small that entrance of God into the world was -- just a few people, in a backwater country. May our little community in a house that ought to be a stable, not a home for human beings, be a light of love and healing and justice and life. May we be birthers of the presence of God, here and now. May we be whatever God is dreaming of us being.
And you, reading this -- you are a part of the dream, the work, the healing. Thank you for reading, praying, giving, loving. God bless you, and Merry Christmas!
Blessings and love to all,
“Yes,” said Lucy. “In our world, too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.”
C.S. Lewis “The Last Battle”
Various people have written to say that they wanted to get something from our amazon wish list but couldn’t find it. Here is a link (sorry I didn’t think of this last week!):
My neice, Jasmine Staff, is in Ghana for two years with the Peace Corps. I’m amazed at what she’s doing so far. Below is a link to her website about the work there. Jasmine writes, “Please take a moment to allow me to introduce to you the rural African village which has become my home and stolen my heart, and the exciting project I'm creating to help it:
Oscar Romero Church
An Inclusive Community of Liberation, Justice and Joy
Worshiping in the Catholic Tradition
Mass: Sundays, 11 am
St Joseph's House of Hospitality, 402 South Ave, Rochester NY 14620