the second devotional thought of this day….
24 Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good. Hebrews 10:23-24 (TEV)
This inner life allowed him to experience the divine everywhere: the dentist’s waiting room, traveling around the city on public transport, enjoying a get-together. He sometimes said in Italian, nel bel mezzo della strada—in the middle of the street. “The street is our cell.” One day in 1960, when the alterations in Villa Tevere were finished, Salvador Suanzes, nicknamed Pile, asked, “Father, which of the oratories in this house do you like best?” “The street!” Pile looked astonished. Monsignor Escrivá smiled. “I love all the oratories in this house. But I prefer the street. ‘Our cell is the street’ is not just a nice phrase. And you, Pile, my son, and so many sons and daughters of mine, will often have to make your prayer in the street. And it can be done really well there too! Although, whenever we can, we do it in a church or in an oratory, before our Lord who is really present in the tabernacle.” (1)
I’ve been in a funk, this last week or so… drained of most of my energy, and to an extent, my novel outlook on life. Seems like the life has been zapped out of me.
I’ve tried to write it off as simply the amount of trauma that I’ve had to deal with, and to be honest, that has been the most I’ve endured since I started serving in churches. The burdens of grieving over my dad, of friends overwhelmed with financial problems, some with medical problems, some with marital problems. Watching my right hand in ministry, or maybe I’m his… (sort of like the excellent guitarist he is, we work together like his right and left hands.. not completely aware of the others thoughts and actions.. but boy does it work well!) go through trauma with both his parents. Watching two other friends I care about – dealing with addiction issues… the list keeps going… and going…
Everything changed then.
One of my usual places, where the older hispanic waiter (maybe a few years older than me) always calls me “Father”, because he’s seen me wearing my clerical collar. He knows I’m Lutheran – but says it doesn’t matter, I am a man of God. (Sometimes I think – boy do I have him fooled!!! okay more than sometimes!) The restaurant was busy – they had coupons for “bosses” day, and it was buy your lunch the boss eats free. They were very busy and short staff.
And so my friend, he couldn’t give me the attention he usually gives. Running and trying to help the other staff, trying to care for people, trying to manage large groups, I felt bad for him. Even more when he realized I was in the corner, in his station, and no one had brought me something to drink until I was almost done with my entree. Later he realized no one brought me chips and salsa ( I had the lunch buffet) Despite his busyness, he took great pains to apologize, and the hurt of his failure was clear on his face. He thought he let me down, had not done his best by me. Even as I admired him out-serving those younger than him.
About that time, i was reading a book about my favorite Catholic theologian/pastor/lover of God. (yeah it’s a little odd for a Lutheran pastor to admit he really likes a Catholic priests work…but I think there is a lot in Escriva’s work that is Lutheran in theology! Or maybe we are more Catholic than we want to admit) and I ran into the above quote. I actually downloader twitter to my phone to tweet a summary of it.
As tired as I am, as broken as I feel, I started seeing Christ’s heart in the heart of a waiter, who hated not being able to care for me. Not that Jesus ever fails to care for us, but I wonder how our His heart feels when we don’t realize His presence, and how He serves us. I saw this man, who makes his vocation caring for others, feeding them, nourishing them, making sure they know they are cared for, and that they are welcome in his restaurant.
And I changed. I am still exhausted to some extent… these last few weeks have been a physical drain as well. But my attitude is quickly changing, as what I know, what I’ve been preaching about this fall comes fully into focus. We can’t minister to others, until we let Christ minister to us. We can’t serve, share, bring healing to others, reveal to them Christ’s love and the peace which He desires to bring Him, until we experience it ourself.
Until we let ourselves be served, cared for, nourished.
My friend will get a copy of this blog tomorrow I think – though I scribbled the thoughts out on the bill… so he could know how he served me – exacrly what I needed… (far more than my diet coke!) Out there on street, I encountered Christ’s love and care… I saw His heart in work that most overlook. And in a very quiet way… that has brought joy to this wearied heart.
A good lesson – and I pray.. the begining of a new season of rest…. and serving others!
- The Heart of Theology & the Heart of Ministry is the Heart of Christ (justifiedandsinner.com)
- The Eucharist and Its Effective Work on our Hearts: (justifiedandsinner.com)
- Encountering others on Holy Ground. (justifiedandsinner.com)