January 5, 2013

For behold, darkens covers the earth

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 6:49 pm by Editorial Team

On December 21, the sun set at 4:43 PM.  It didn’t rise again until 7:16 AM the next morning.  The winter solstice, also known as the longest night of the year, lasted 14 hours and 33 minutes.  For most of us, we hardly notice a difference.  But for many who wander the streets at night or have no consistent place to lay their head, it is a night of worry, like many other nights.  Worry that they will be able to maintain enough body heat to stay alive.  Worry that they will be able to sleep safely, without being disturbed or harmed.  Worry about their next meal.  

On December 21, our house attended an inter-faith memorial service.  The nonprofit I work for, along with several other agencies, has sponsored this service for years.  The purpose is to remember those who have no more reason to worry, because they have left this world.  In St. Louis, at least 22 people died this year, because they succumbed to a variety of issues of poor health care related to their sojourn.  We hold the service to remember, first of all their lives and struggles, and second of all, to remind ourselves that we must to better.

At the agency where I work, I interact with many of these individuals on a daily basis, all of them having a disability which further complicates their situation.  The complex situations we find are a result of both circumstances beyond control and the compounding effects of mistakes made with little few privileges.  And the government-funded work we do, while often very instrumental in our work, falls short of the perfect fix: a rebuilt community where relationships are made whole.

It is often easy to judge others from our position, in trying to determine who is worthy of help.  However, we can hardly know the experiences of each person we meet.  Our house is a house of hospitality.  We have had all kinds of people stay with us, and interacted with people who were intoxicated, had a serious mental illness, or were fighting drug addiction.  We have also interacted with some very skilled/resourceful people who have become friends over the years.  Our first response is simply to welcome people, offer them whatever we have on hand, whether joining us in a meal, or friendship.

These individuals leave an indelible mark on our household conscience, as they have challenged us to rethink ourselves, our understanding of society, and each other.  We frequently reminisce on these encounters.  Occasionally, some of these individuals resurface.  Many do not.  Our only hope is that in these acts of worship that we celebrate the trinitarian imago dei.

 

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