We Cannot Sleep Peacefully…

We Cannot Sleep Peacefully… August 20, 2013

In perhaps ironic fashion, the text woke me from a deep sleep at 2:01 am the morning of August 17th:

It was Pope Francis, tweeting again in the middle of the night. I have my Twitter account set to text me when the Holy Father tweets. He has a tendency to do so in what equates to the early morning hours here in Fresno. Typically I wake up, read his tweet, whisper a quick prayer, and roll back over and go to sleep. I’m a disgustingly great sleeper… I can fall asleep in less than a minute when I go to bed at night. I’ll choose sleep over just about any other luxury, including chocolate.

So imagine my reaction to this text, with these words. “We cannot sleep peacefully…”

Oh my.

Quite the wake up call.

I’ve been pondering Pope Francis’ tweet since then, trying to figure out how — for me — it is a personal call to action. This is not a call to drop an extra buck in the basket on Sunday at Mass and merrily go about my way. This is not a chance for me to think, “I give to Catholic causes xyz and abc…” and consider myself exempt.

It’s also not Pope Francis calling me to pack up my stuff, leave my family, jump on a plane, and go feed orphans half a world away.

We cannot sleep peacefully…

In fact, I don’t have to go looking very far to find babies who are hungry or elderly who are without medical assistance:

In 2012, the University of California, Los Angeles – Center for Health Policy Research identified that approximately 3.8 million individuals were food-insecure within California. The report also identified the San Joaquin Valley as having one of the highest rates of food insecurity within the state. Source

Ironically, this is happening in an agricultural area. There’s a great chance that some of the fruit in your refrigerator was grown in this Valley. Those planting, picking and processing all that food are among the underserved, the hungry, the medically untreated.

The good news is that there are structures in place to respond to many of those needs — but without my support and that of my neighbors, those structures remain understaffed, underfunded and overwhelmed by the daunting tasks they are charged with accomplishing in our community.

We cannot sleep peacefully…

The past few nights, Pope Francis’ call has been ringing in my head, messing with my sleep. His tweet wasn’t a “direct message” to @LisaHendey, but this one is hard to shake off as “Well, that’s a nice tweet…”

So I’m pondering, praying about what my response can be. Not just on the hunger issue, but also on the equally as challenging crisis of how we treat (or ignore) our elderly. One baby step towards that solution might be if each of us simply took more time each day to actively love the elderly in our own lives: our family members, fellow parishioners, and retired priests and religious.

I’ve set myself a mental deadline for turning pondering into a plan of action for this particular challenge from Pope Francis. Until that action plan is in place, I think I’ll be sleeping a little less peacefully.

The grace in this situation is the manpower we can muster, the change that we can bring about when we each wake up, lift a tiny portion of the burden, and commit to action.

We cannot sleep peacefully…

Let’s do this.

A question for you: How are you personally responding to the Church’s call to serve those around you with dignity and love?



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  • Looks like my sleep will be ruined for a few nights as well. Thanks for that call to more action.

    • lisahendey

      Sorry… misery loves company. Just kidding Marc… you’re sort of in a good position to teach others about this too! If we all do a little bit, I’m convinced we can make a difference.

  • Just got an email from my principal that a new committee has been started at our school. It will be called the St. Bridid’s Committee. Families will sign up to take the extra food from our cafeteria down to our local homeless shelter once a week. I wonder if the mom who suggested this idea read the Pope’s tweet. I love this idea!

    • lisahendey

      What a great program Barb!! I’m going to email you to get some more information – I want to write about that. Maybe we can get the program active in some other schools too!

  • Kelly Guest

    It is funny to think of my own parents as the elderly, but atlas, they do qualify. So first thing is to make sure all their needs are taken care of, which financially speaking I believe they are. Emotionally, I want to be sure that the grandchildren are visiting enough. I must be sure to continue the practice of calling mom every morning, even after school gets started. But a bigger plan does need to be put into action by my family. Maybe the yearly visit to the nursing home at Christmas time needs to be expended to include more visits. God, move me to respond to your grace if this is your will. I am glad, Lisa, that you shared the pope’s tweet with us tech-challenged moms. And, sorry to say, I am glad it moved you to sleeplessness, action and challenge. Now, to go through my pantry….

    • lisahendey

      Kelly, I love your comment. You’re a good role model for me!

  • MeanLizzie

    How do you set up a text alarm? 🙂

  • kellie

    Lisa, don’t you hate it when God works in you all hours of the night and you get no rest until you put the plan into action. I pray that your plan eventuates sooner than later, but with all the necessary components to serve God’s people utilizing all the gifts and talents of those who participate. I have often thought that if we could all just head out from out churches on Sunday and spend one hour will someone in the nursing home we would be answering God’s call. I do hopsital and home bound ministry at our church and I see the most need is that people just want some company, someone to acknowledge them and talk with them. WE are all so busy, ut seriously are we too busy for one hr a week? May God continue to bless you and may the Pope continue to wake you at all hours with a personal message!!!

  • I have long pondered this problem myself. Most people’s heartstrings are pulled at the thought of a child going hungry and therefore there is an abundance of resources in this area. In most areas, actually. All the parents have to do is ask. But the health issues of the elderly, and in particular, the elderly who are dying is what has kept me up at night. My dream would be to build several small homes on our property to house and care for the dying, that they may die with dignity and peace, with the Sacraments and level of care these seasoned souls deserve. Because they will not receive it under our current health-scare system. Wound care, basic comfort care, etc (anything considered hospice care, I suppose) would be provided for in a place where the dying could bring pieces of home with them, and have a family member stay with them for as long as needed in the extra bedroom provided. Privacy, with the comforts of home and a loving family member at their side taking over much of their care during their last few weeks, and an on-staff nurse and priest whenever their services are needed…
    Obviously I have given this a lot of thought! And it will continue to keep me up at night until we win the lottery to complete the project!