Saturday, August 29, 2009

What if?

"The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dreams shall never die." Edward Kennedy

Watching the Ted Kennedy funeral and memorial services remind me of some of my first memories, the death of his brother, JFK. I don't think its a phantom memory, I do believe I remember this time in my life. I was 3 and 1/2 years old, I remember seeing my father cry. For some reason it is linked w/ sitting in Bill Riddle's restaurant w/ my father, eating a chili dog whose sauce I can never re-create, and hearing the news coming from the radio. I remember my father hurrying us home. Then follow blurry images, upset adults, black and white images from television, a horse with a backwards saddle, speeches, days of confusion...

I remember years later the death of RFK, the growing up of Caroline and John Jr., the death of John Jr. Always the Kennedys in the public eye, their lives intertwined with history and with mine in a distant way.

I remember thinking them privileged but dedicated to public service; noblesse oblige.

I have always wondered what the world would be like if JFK and RFK had not been killed. What if they had lived on to carry out their dreams; not leaving Teddy as the lone Kennedy, flawed, fallible but determined to carry on the family dream and mission.

This was read at Teddy's funeral mass:

"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you? The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

This leads me to wonder what if we actually begin to live as practicing Christians rather than just mouthing the words. What if we actually put others first? Feed the poor? Clothe the naked? Heal the sick?

I wonder if we actually truly lived the Gospel what the world would be like. If we lived it in the government, in the schools, in our homes, in our hearts? Not just talking about it or using it to condemn others or wielding it as a tool of judgment, but instead to merely live it through our lives and hearts. What if we led by example? What if we let our works show our faith instead of our words? What if the whole world could instantly be converted into caring for the least of these? I have this vision that then there would be no inequality, no hunger, no poverty. There would still be pain, disease, and death. There would still be enough work that these ideals could be carried out. From the innocent children to the old and frail, to the animals, to the earth itself... there would still be natural disasters. But maybe, just maybe there would not be man made disasters or wars. Maybe the pain of the world would be lessened.

My heart aches for the world. For all the wounded people I encounter daily. As a social worker, I walk among the "least of these" daily. I see such wounded people that I cannot believe how such atrocity exists. It makes me question so much. At times even God. But then I realize that God has sent me there. Flawed as I am, wounded and weak, I am there for a purpose. I am just one person, but if I can go there, so can others, if these wounded people will let me let me in, open the door, then they will continue to let others in behind me. IF I live the Gospel. If I enter with God in my heart.

There was a time when the only Jesus I could relate to was the Christ child, an innocent baby born into poverty to loving parents.
It is only recently I realized I have begun to know the later Christ. The wounded, bloody, broken man who hung on the cross. Tortured, agonized, confused, crying out to his Father. Reluctantly accepting his job, his fate, his servant status.
I am not comparing myself to Christ by a long shot, I haven't his gifts for forgiveness, his grace, but I have begun to realize my life is not my own. That I am here to serve. That in all I do, in all I am, I am a servant. Yes I must rest and care for myself, but that is so I may care for others. I could have chosen many other paths, but it would not matter which way I would have gone, because on any road I would have traveled, I would have seen the least of these, and been compelled to stop and help. I understand Ted Kennedy. He was flawed, human, broken and incredibly fallible. But he tried so hard to help the poor, the homeless, the least of these. He tried to help the people I see daily and that I have grown to love.

Today my husband commented that Ted Kennedy may be the closest thing we have ever had to a Christian politician...

Rest in peace Teddy. May light perpetual shine upon you.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Hope returns

I have the first faint flutterings of Hope again.
What has brought it about again?
I can't say for certain other than it must be Love.

I have had 2 weeks of nurturing from my mum in law. She came and cooked, cleaned, did a mountain of laundry but more than that, she listened. She let me cry. She patted my hand, dried my tears and loved me.

My sister has stayed by side providing unconditional support and love despite her busy life as Mom, Grandmom, wife, and individual.

My Big Brother #2 has helped out too, providing me with relief from worry and assisting with my panic triggers.

Friends have come by with veggies and a homemade lasagna.

Church has been extremely supportive lately showing me what church is supposed to be...

I have been doused in Love. I have been seeing God's grace flowing out of familiar faces and it has amazed me. God is not a stranger, Jesus walks among us on wounded feet, with wounded hands and heart, appearing as friends and family. That is what the incarnation is about. The love of Christ manifesting and flowing through our hearts into the hearts of others.
Blessed Be.

I like this one...

“If for an instant God forgot that I am just a puppet, and He gave me one more piece of life, I would take advantage of that time, the best I could.”

I would probably not say everything I think, but definitely think all I say.

I would value things not for what they are worth, but for what they represent.

I would sleep less and dream more.
For every minute we close our eyes we lose sixty seconds of light.

I would continue where others have stopped and I would rise when others sleep.

If God allowed me one more piece of life, I would dress simpler, would wallow in the sunlight, leaving uncovered, not only my bod, but also my soul.

I would prove to men how wrong they are to think that they stop falling in love as they get older, since they actually start getting older as soon as they stop falling in love.

I would give wings to the children, but I would leave the child alone so that he could learn how to fly on his own.

To the old, I would show them how death comes not with the ageing process but with forgetting.

So many things I have learned from you…. I have learned that everybody wants to live at the top of the mountain, forgetting that is how we climb is all that matters.

I have learned that when a newborn grabs his father’s thumb, he takes a hold on him forever.

I have learned that a man has the right to look down on somebody, only when he is helping him to get up.

So many things I have learned from all of you.

Always tell, what you feel and do what you think.

If I knew that today it would be the last time that I will see you, I will embrace you strongly to be the guardian of your soul.

If I would know that these would be the last minutes that I will see you, I would say to you “I love you” and wouldn´t assume that you would know it.

There is always morning where life gives us another opportunity to make things good.

Keep always close to you, your dear ones, and tell them how much you need them and love and take care of them.

Take time to say, “I am sorry”, “forgive me”, “please,” “ thank you” and all the nice and lovely words you know.

Nobody would remember you if you keep your thoughts secret.

Force yourself to express them.

Show your friends and dear ones how much you care about them.

written by Gabriel GarcĂ­a Marquez