Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Village People

...or It Takes a Village...

Independence is a value in our culture, but it is not a gospel value. Jesus lived in community and was a part of a village culture. Certainly you remember the story in Luke 2 where his parents lost him on the way home from the Passover festival? How do you lose a kid, especially when it is the Messiah? They were part of the village that was traveling together in a caravan. They probably trusted that he was safe with some friend or family member. The culture then was not the suburbia of today.

We have had a little lady who visits us in the church office. For lack of a better term, I often refer to her as the “Wild Haired Woman.” She flits around like a moth drawn to the light, cannot remember from one time to another the conversations, and is in a state of mental confusion that is more than likely dementia.

She recently became homeless and this due to her generous nature. She has a lease that allows one person to live in her apartment and yet she continuously invites the homeless to stay with her. As wonderful and altruistic as that may be, it violates the conditions of her lease so she was turned out to the streets.

She does have a caseworker, who handles her finances and pays her rent, but I’m sure with the aging population here in the southwest he must have a huge caseload. When he learns she needs help he then is tasked with trying to locate her and have a conversation with her to try and explain to her the options she has at hand. It will be a conversation that she will not remember or if she does, it will be fraught with paranoia and conspiracy to her recollection. She maintains that, “I cannot live by man’s laws when I am called to help my fellowman.” Thus the voided contract (lease) and all the ensuing problems.

Several of our members, staff and pastoral staff have gone above and beyond in trying to assist this woman. Walking the known hangouts where the homeless congregate, trying to find her and get her into suitable housing, to include her caseworker. We found out about her plight most recently by another homeless person who was taking her to lunch to find solutions for her plight. We gave him the caseworker’s name and phone number. In fact, this homeless man gave her a flannel shirt to wear during the cold night to keep her warm and was very concerned for her welfare and who might try to take advantage of her.

Yes, a moth drawn to the light… and shouldn't we, too be drawn to the light…the light of Christ. But certainly, God, not to the point of becoming homeless and destitute? Then who is brought to my mind but Mother Teresa. A reporter who once was interviewing her said, “I wouldn't do what you do for a million dollars.” She responded, “Me neither.”

It takes a village is an African proverb. It does indeed take a village. The question remains, will I be a willing participant, a member of “The Village People”? We live in community among the suffering because that is what we were created for. Not only does it give life to others, but it regenerates our lives too.

Abba, Father… help me to see those around me with your eyes, the eyes of compassion, the eyes of a mother who is seeking for the good of her children. We are now entering into the season where giving becomes a little less restrictive and we feel better about ourselves for giving to the needy; to the least of these, my brothers (and sisters). May my eyes be opened all year long, not just during the holiday season.  ~Amen

Wishing you everyday grace... every single day,

Tamara

Job 30:24-25
Surely no one lays a hand on a broken man when he cries for help in his distress. Have I not wept for those in trouble? Has not my soul grieved for the poor?