Sunday, February 9, 2014

Becoming With an Expanded Heart

                  Is it possible to see God in our daily events? Can I truly see God in the people that I encounter? If God is perfect, how can She be present within us with all of our shortcomings and failures? My prayer is that God help me find Her within me, in my seemingly mundane activities, in everyone that I meet, and even in the places of suffering and deep hurt.
                  I believe that our daily events, our past and present experiences continue to mold us and open our hearts. It is my opinion that we are called to see God in these experiences.  In the spirit of today’s gospel, we are also called to be salt and light of the world.  In other words, we are called to become cocreators of God’s world in the ongoing development of creation. What does that truly mean? How can I be a cocreator with the God that is so magnificent?
                  As cocreators, as salt and light of the world, I do not think that God is asking us to do something particularly big in other to change a world that often feels so gloomy.  In my opinion, God is asking us to practice small acts of kindness in our daily activities and with all the people that we meet.  God is asking us to love unconditionally, to love even when we do not see the results, to love without expecting anything in return. God is asking a lot of us.
                  As cocreators of the world, we are asked to let go of our judgments and feeling.  Instead we need to open our hearts to really listen and see a situation with a new perspective.  Listening and seeing with our heart can be a hard task.  This is especially true when we are giving so much of ourselves, yet we are not receiving anything in return.  But it is necessary if we do not want our heart to be hardened.
                  Sometimes, I find it hard to work at BARN.  The hurt of the women at BARN are so deep, they find it hard to trust us, their case managers.  It is not easy to comprehend why a person would choose to leave a place that seeks to help her rather than cleaning their living area when she has nowhere else to go.  Other times, it feels like all I do is scold and punish for a task that is not done. Then I wonder, why should the women at BARN trust me? Why should they understand that my scolding is meant to be an act of love? I am asking a lot of them. With a heart that has been broken so many times, they are unable to give me what I need. Then I realize that it is the system that fails us. We are in a race to get things done quickly. We are trying to correct the bad behaviors (behaviors that the women have acquired for the past 30 years) in about 3 months. But the systems fails to take into consideration the relationship. We underestimate the heart. Can we truly build a relationship in such a short time to be able to make a difference?
                  I come to understand that more than anything, I wish for the women at BARN and myself to become companions on a journey in this period of transition.  I need to believe that this period of transition is giving us all wisdom.  I need to hope that the women I am serving will survive some of their failures.  Realistically, I understand that for some, the cycle of poverty and homelessness will not be broken. Our policies are too broken, our structural system continues to marginalize those that are underprivileged; still I need to believe that at least some of them will overcome.
                  Even for those that will not have the success story that BARN desires, I hope they know that for at least three months, they were understood, cared for, and loved.  For now, that is all I can give.  Even in the moments that I feel most powerless, I hope that in the future, I can be a voice and an advocate for those that are even more powerless than me. But for the moment, I will settle for giving empathy, love, and a listening ear.
                  I have been asked: “What can a single mom, homeless with 3 children, who does not want to clean her room, and find it difficult to become independent teach me?” I did not have an answer then, and I still don’t have a good answer.  But if I were to answer that question now, I would respond:
                  Courage! Courage because despite so many failures and so much hurt, the women I serve get up in the morning and try to do their best the best way that they know how; to do their best in a society that seems to have forgotten about them or worst, to have tossed them aside.  Yes, I would agree that there are times we take 3 steps forward and 1 step back or 2 steps forward and 4 steps back. In those times, I am frustrated. But I am aware that starting all over again is part of the process. Growing and becoming is a long and sometimes painful process.  It takes patience.  But I desire to be a companion, someone who will walk with the family I serve on their journey forward.

Peace and Blessings,

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