Thursday, 4 April 2013
I'm not sure about prayer. My dear friend Caroline, is making a steady recovery from an aggressive cancer, and we prayed, so it could have made the difference, but I rather wish she hadn't got sick in the first place so I prayed, 'Holy One, let no-one ever get cancer again...' Takes a LOT of faith that one, and I'm not up to it, I guess.
Something got to me yesterday. A light-headed joy that enthused the whole of my day.
I wondered whether I really wanted to get up and go to work at the Mission. Since the bust-up over John - he was deprived of his internship because, among other things, he didn't tow the line on hell, and he doesn't hold with Hebrews-having -been- written-by-Paul (Or-should-that-be-Peter?). I agree with him on both points, but have had the sense to keep quiet. You don't rattle fundamentalists and get away with it.
I don't want to give the wrong impression. The Missioners are very dear people, who have at least found a God that gets them off their pewsides and out onto the streets feeding people who probably will never give two hoots about who wrote the letter to the Hebrews.
Anyway, I went because I love the work.
It's the school hols.: we were short-handed, so I was glad I went. We pray like Protestants. More like telling God a story. Preamble, filling him in on the reasons why we're bothering him. Ramble - lengthy and heartfelt pleading for this and that. ôGamble - kind of 'let's put it out there and see what happens'. I write this with affection. It's hard to convey tone, I don't think God minds. He has more patience than me.
Phil, the one who thinks Catholics are the spawn of the devil, was really friendly. I looked into his eyes and they met mine (always a good sign) he volunteered a hug, and he even told me a couple of jokes. Gosh, I'm thinking, (having got The Legion of Mary to pray for him) SOMETHING MAJOR has shifted here.
('What do you call a deer with no eyes?' 'No idea'. 'What do you call a deer with no eyes and no legs?' 'Still no idea.' I didn't say they were GOOD jokes.)
I volunteered to take a trolley full of food, with Tony, to the Vaughn Centre: the day centre for the street people and addicts.
Eliza's waiting to go into rehab. She found an American cent on the street this morning. 'Look!' Sure enough, 'Liberty' on one side, and ' In God we Trust ' on the other. It's a sign, she's sure of it, and I hug her so tightly. She will die if she doesn't get off the stuff. For you, Liza, in God I will trust too.
Martha, the Slovakian is with a new, new man. Vlad, the old one, who beat her, fell into the canal and drowned last year. Zenco looks much kinder. I can but hope.
John lay sprawled across three chairs. He used to sit outside with the drinkers, but alcohol is now banned from the premises. John doesn't want any food, but summons up the energy for a brief chat. He"s off the drink, but not the heroin. He's going to collect his prescription today and shut himself away and stay there until he doesn't need the drug any more. 'It's going to hurt like hell,' he says. 'I'll pray for you John,' I say, and God, I mean it.
There are Christians among them. Stan who's life I wouldn't want to live, and yet who's shining face and gentle smile speaks of serenity amidst this chaos. Robin, who belongs to a youthful and vibrant church shyly speaks of a 'gig' at The Guildhall on Saturday. I wish, right there and then, that my church had gigs. He's jubilant because after two years on the streets, he's finally been housed.
Pies, soup, fruit, chocolate, all dispensed, indiscriminately. Laughter and thanks, this week. I am uncomfortable with the gratitude, I really am.
Tony and I wheel our ridiculous little trolley back through the streets. The Mission Room is still open. Andrew and George are leaving. 'Come here my favourite men!' Something indescribable is bubbling up inside me. I think it's love. I manage to give them both a hug at the same time.
'You're such a tart' Andrew laughs. 'How right you are, ' I laugh right back, and kiss them both. It IS love.
Sandy is still sitting over her coffee. She's trans-gender and of all of our street people, she is the one that suffers the most, I think. She's beaming. The last time I saw her she was deeply depressed. 'You prayed for me!' I did. And I thanked God that I hadn't forgotten. Both times. Once for the visit to the psychologist that was the wrong date, and once on the right one... . SOMETHING'S CHANGED!
'You just have to tell them, Sandy, that this is who you ARE, not who you're trying to be.'
Mind you, I thought it politic NOT to ask The Legion of Mary to pray for a man to get the operation to make him a woman. I handled that one all on my own.
Time for Sandy to leave. I ask if I might give her a blessing. She accedes:
' May The LORD bless you and keep you. May He make His face to shine upon you and grant you His peace.'
ALL of you.