Books Worth a Look

  • Little Bee by Chris Cleave - This book is a must read. Better than anything else I've read, it takes you vividly into the life of a person in the 3rd world who has no choice but to escape. It is brilliantly written & works well as an audio book. Often I've sent info about the wonderful refugees I've met in Europe. We know only so much of their plight as it is painful for them to recall much less live through again by recounting it. But over time it is clear what they've lived through. This book is excellent as you discover the horrors of their world. Somewhat how to me, it is like being in Europe near a Concentration Camp. One has an obligation to visit it. 'Never to Forget.' In this case, to have our eyes opened.
  • Garbage King by Eliz Laird - The book is set on the streets on Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia and here lives Mamo and his sister Tiggist. When Mamo's "uncle" offers a job, he soon sets out on a bus to work. Little does he know that he is actually being sold into slavery...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Grace Filled Day*

A Grace Filled Day*

* Regrettably all too many televangelists have killed words like grace, religious, and Christian. much less Jesus. I use the word 'grace' here to indicate the presence of the 'more' that many of us believe must exist, though we have limited ability to understand - often referred to as God.

In the afternoon I began to make my way to Tacoma, about an hour's bus ride away to visit the Tacoma Catholic Worker, Guadalupe House.

First I met the irrepressible
Peter. Guadalupe House is quite large - two smaller houses joined making it possible to have 13 bedrooms for live in workers & transitional housing for homeless trying to get off the street. Every person I met and it ended up being about 30 were so alive. Today was the day for the open Liturgy and dinner.

The liturgy today was led by the same Peter brimming with excitement. we each mentioned someone who had died to keep in our heart during the prayer. I mentioned Jim and Dorothy Stang. After a reading by Isaiah, individuals shared memories of those who had recently died in the streets . Just to think, here were people in life experiences that we never would want to experience for an hour much less months & years - genuinely sharing their recognition of simple goodness and insight. One felt a sense of community.

At one point we were invited to share how we'd spend our last day. My thoughts went to my daughter, my new son-in-law & his incredible family, and my family & friends gathered simply enjoying each other & the day. Similar to the one I just spent in North East with the Drabs. A grace filled day.

After the Kiss of Peace I joined several to serve the food cafeteria style. I had just heard about the amazing Fr. Bischel, pronounced simply Bix. Double wow! Next to me stood a tall, slender, bearded 81 one year old man dishing out the main course. He made instant contact and you knew you were in the company of greatness - not media like - but real. He was interested in the person right there - an amazing man.

25 years of his work , influence and many good people, this once gang ridden block, now has 5 houses owned by the TCW. He has bought and mostly had donated almost every individual home. People are so impressed by his work that when they die, they simply leave the house to the TCW.

In addition to the main house, surrounding a grass center, there are many buildings: one housed a recently financially devastated family, some houses individuals as well as Bix. In one there is a Contemplation Room (a quiet peaceful room) open to all. Just retrieve the key from a slot outside & let yourself in. it works!

Bix, a Buddhist, an ex-marine and about 10 others travel to Hiroshima next month for the annual remembrance of those two dark days in 1945. They carry a simple petition asking forgiveness for our part in it. Today's Tacoma Tribune carries a front page article on the upcoming trip.

Arriving back in Seattle, I went to get a soda across the street from the hostel. A bedraggled homeless woman approached me. She didn't want money - just please a sandwich from Subway.

Inside we went, happy to help but sadly a tad uncomfortable as I know how proprietors often feel about 'those people coming here.' Christ present? Right next to me. In the person of this likely mentally ill lady. But not quietly! In a loud voice, she kept telling me just a simple tuna sandwich just like her mother made for her. Heck, Subway has foot long subs for about $ 5. Go for it. Nope! Just a 1/2 . She didn't want to impose. And hey, tuna and more mayonnaise please. By now we were the center of a completely still eatery. I'm thinking almost done - going from exalting in her joy and wondering if everyone was going to throw me out. She actually got the young man to put on 1 & 1/2 extra scoops of tuna and lots more mayonnaise!

What was the best in a way was the sheer joy of the two workers. The young man the next day told everyone who came in when I was there. That I could do without!!! Small world? One of the workers was Palestinian. I shared with him my discovery of a Palestinian detective series.

Grace filled day? Does God exist? No need to ask. Tom* was right!

*Tom, my ex-Jesuit spiritual director, is a god send. Today he led me to explore just how I experience God's presence in my life: my daughter & new son-in-law, family & friends, nature, the Eucharist, in individual people I meet, not infrequently the poorest. Prayer then is simply being present to those experiences.

1 comment:

Jim and Nancy Forest said...

I quickly arrived at a street with a large sin...

Typos are wonderful, some more than others.



Thoughts on the amazing people I get to meet.

Rich, my 19 year old friend, soon to be Franciscan and recent community member at Haley House in Boston. An article he wrote.