How often have you said to someone or has someone said to
you: “I cannot thank you enough”? Why not? What’s stopping you? Usually we say
it when someone has gone above and beyond in doing us a favor or a donation. So
our humble thanks seems lacking somehow but we say thank you anyway.
But who are the people in your neck of the woods who need to
hear thank you again and again and again for the simplest of reasons? I am
thinking of our garbage collectors…does anyone ever just say thank you for
doing a job that needs to be done? How about the people who clean up the
highways, those folks out there with garbage bags and picks picking up our
trash…I know some times they are inmates from the local hoosegow but does that
make them less useful?
What our police and fire personnel? Teachers? Mail carriers?
The grocery baggers at the store—I know that at Kroger’s in Gahanna they
usually want to take your cart out for you and load your cars if you wish;
don’t think they get extra pay for this but how about “I can’t thank you
Of course, all of these thoughts are surrounding Thanksgiving Day, but “thank you” never takes a holiday!
I have been asking this question: What does God see? When we were growing up we
learned that God sees EVERYTHING. But think about the question, what does
sees us as whole human beings, our past, our present, our hopes, our fears, our
struggles and our faith, but most of all God sees in us, all of that ALL AT THE
SAME TIME. It is all one for God. God does not see your good parts one day and
your failings another day. We might see that– but God just sees you and God just
sees me. God sees your youth, your middle years, your old age. God sees you now
whole and holy, somewhat incomplete, but on the way to being a fully realized
moment in time, no slip up, no sin, no failure or defect can separate us from
God. Even if there still remains in us
some lack of forgiveness perhaps or an unfinished “something”.
is the message of Paul in Roman 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither
angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither
height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I
would add, not even our past.
we remember family and friends that have gone home to God, it is all love now. God now sees those we have lost in a most
complete and fully realized way. God
sees those we love with the eyes of love. God sees each of us as whole, that
is, God cannot see just one part, God sees every part of each of us as one
life: one precious, beautiful, exquisite son or daughter. Nothing now, in the past, or in the future, can
separate us or our loved one from the love of God.
does God see when God looks at us, when we fail or when something we did hurts
another person? God sees people of faith, people of hope, even if on some days
we only see a small slice of what God sees.
If we can look at each other the way God looks at us, would there be
anyone hungry among us? Would there be anyone a stranger among us? Would there
be any room for hate? Could we do anything less than feel compassion and offer
When we look at each other the way God sees us, there is no hate, there is no fear, nor judgment, no disappointment – only forgiveness and joy.
This is what it might be like in heaven. God’s gaze is on those who have gone before us and God looks at them and is smiling, God is satisfied, is happy that our mother, our father, our brother or sister, friend or family member is now home. When we look at our own lives and the lives of others the way God sees us, freedom is born anew. We are free from regret, we gain a capacity for forgiveness, and compassion is planted in our souls.
“Keep, ancient lands, your
storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me
your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses
yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your
Send these, the homeless,
tempest-tost to me,
I lift my
lamp beside the golden door!”
New Colossus,” Emma Lazarus
When I was in public high school, we learned
about the waves of immigration that took place in the late 19th and
early 20th centuries here in America. We learned about ports of entry, in
particular, Ellis Island in New York City, not far from the Statue of Liberty,
that “mighty woman with a torch.” I
found out through conversation with my parents that, indeed, my father’s parents
had come through that very port in 1893 from Ireland. (My mother’s parents had
already come from Germany in the 1840’s.)
We also were encouraged to memorize the second half of this poem by Emma
Lazarus, which was written to raise money for the construction of a pedestal for
the Statue of Liberty.
We need to screen properly, and with dignity, the
people who seek to come to our country.
We do not need to fear them simply for coming,
for being displaced from their original countries by circumstances none of us
would want to life through!
We need to think about what to do once they come
to us. How can we prepare a welcome?
We do not need to call them an “invasion” or
immediate cast suspicion upon their motivations without hearing what they have
The myth is that we do not have enough to go
The truth is that together we will always have
an abundance because of our synergy.
That where historically our strength as a nation
has come forth…
asking is that perhaps we all could try to follow more closely the “Golden
Rule”, found in some closely related version in every religion: “Do unto others what you would have them do
unto you.” I find myself asking, “How would I want to be treated, if God
forbid, I found myself in circumstances like…?”
my case, I need to do what has already been done for my family over 100 years
ago: I want “to lift a lamp beside the
golden door” for those now 100 years later are experiencing the same thing that
my ancestors already did.
not find a civilized way to discuss this issue for the sake of our brothers and
sisters who still are fleeing oppression?
Will we not find that by opening our country to those who wish to live
safe and productive lives, we will find new creative energy as a nation, just
as we have in the past?
In the Gospel for All Saints
Day Jesus names the beatitudes – that is “be attitudes” – attitudes of being –
ways of acting. These are not laws. Instead they are named as guides for us as
we journey through life. On All Saints Day we celebrate the feast of “a great
multitude, which no one could count from every nation, race, people and tongue”
Some of the great multitude
we knew. They were our parents, siblings, friends, Dominican Sisters. Just
recently, several of our Dominican sisters of Peace joined this great
multitude. This great multitude also includes people unknown to us – the
innocent victims of war or violence, faithful parents who raised their children
to live authentic lives, and then lived to a ripe old age, those who died of
disease before living a full life, and so many more. The list goes on and on.
This great multitude are
those who took the beatitudes seriously. In one way or another, they lived
them. Some were known to be meek – slow to anger and quick to forgive. Others
hungered for righteousness, marched and wrote letters to change unjust
situations. Still others were peacemaker in his/her family. Many were
persecuted for the sake of justice. Their attitudes and the way they lived
during their lives on earth may not have made headlines. But God knew of their
mercy or peacefulness or justice seeking. God called them to their reward of
the fullness of heaven.
These beatitudes, bring us to
today, All Saints Day. We remember those we knew who have died; we add those
unknown, all who have not been officially canonized by the Church. We thank
them for their lives. We thank them for their example.
But it can’t end there. We
too are called to live as Jesus taught. We too are called to be peacemakers,
clean of heart, merciful. We too are challenged to live the beatitudes –
attitudes of being – ways of acting.
The question to ponder might
be; for what beatitude will you be remembered?
As we draw near to the celebration of All Souls’ Day, I find
myself reflecting on some of the souls that have crossed our path down here at
the Peace Center over these four years. Their lives had all been impacted by
Hurricane Katrina and they now lived in Section 8 housing in the Pine Street
Miss Janet was a wonderful Grandmother who loved to read and
hoped we would start a book club at the center. In the interim she borrowed
from our library and when her grandchildren came to visit she would gather as
many books as possible to read to them while they stayed with her. She always
returned the books and when she couldn’t manage to walk over she would send
them via another resident. She died in the hospital in 2016.
Ms. Al hated to be called “Ms. Al”. Alpharetta was beset
with many infirmities but she had never let them get the better of her. She was
bound and determined to come to bingo at the center but it took a lot out of
her. After a time she began to wonder if it was all worth it and slowly did
less and less. She ended up in the hospital in 2017 where she died with family
and friends around her.
Dianne was quite a character, and to hear her tell it she
had once advised Ellen Degeneris to get out of stand up comedy in the Quarter
and head to Hollywood. Seems Ellen frequented the bar where Dianne took care of
the drinks; it would seem that the
advice was well heeded. We were never quite sure if the bartending came before
or after she was a surgical nurse, but Dianne claimed both as her careers
before Katrina. Dianne had many facets to her life and personality, and the
word irascible was well applied to her. She loved to talk and only cared that
you listen, not agree or disagree, but beware if you did disagree. Then
according to her, you were never listening in the first place. We knew she was starting to become weaker on
the day she came to ask us to make sure she could give us her dogs if something
happened. She died alone in her apartment in 2017.
Clifford was a man who loved life and had to make changes
after Katrina that left him in a wheelchair with one leg amputated. By the time
of his death he was a double amputee, but not even that stopped him from coming
to play Bingo, going on our field trips and being with his friends. He thought
it was great when there were hats as bingo prizes now and then; you never saw
him without one. He died in the hospital in late 2017.
Gilbert was a great afficionado of the French Quarter and
had many friends in the trendy Bywater. He biked everywhere until he suffered a
stroke a year or so ago. It didn’t exactly stop him but it meant more time in
rehab than he wanted. He had a quick wit and snappy repartee but was always the
gentleman. He too had been a bartender and knew lots of things about the
Quarter. His friends and family held a Celebration of Life at Vaughn’s Lounge
in the Bywater. It was quite a send off.
Quite the characters all five of these folks, but they all
taught us many things about being ourselves with the folks around the center,
accepting people as they are and learning the value of telling stories.