Hope August 25, 2009

As Catholics, we ought to side, reflexively and all the time, with the little guy. The Poor. Minorities. The desperate. The doomed. The outcast. That little old lady you see pushing a shopping cart full of garbage outside Starbucks? She’s our sister. What can we do to help her? The fact that she’s talking to people who aren’t there means she needs our help.

The soldier returning from war, unable to escape the terrible knowledge that what he has seen has shown him the damnable lies that our country tells itself in order to enable men to do things that will haunt them forever? The one who wakes up downstairs, halfway out the front door, because he heard an explosion in his dream and is now warning buddies who aren’t there that they are about to die and his wife doesn’t understand but tries to be there for him any way she can, but at the same time she’s worried for the children?  What can we do to help them?

The man who suffers from nightmares and flashbacks from growing up in a neighborhood where he went to sleep some nights to the sound of gunfire; where he lost precious, priceless, irreplaceable friends to random murders, and is not sure he can handle one more senseless death? What can we do to help him?

The woman whose actual first name is Hope. The one who wakes up every morning and, if she’s lucky, has a few moments of peace before she remembers that both of her precious grandchildren were murdered; before she remembers that losing the first one was hard, but staring into another grandson’s coffin almost exactly a year later — that that was the beginning of the desolation and crushing grief that robs her daily of the rightful, well-earned joy of being a grandparent. She spends her free time ministering to the kids in the neighborhood, doing what she can to reach them before the gangs or police do. The ones she loses to murder she prays for; the ones in prison she visits and writes to. She is a saint. She needs your help.

How can we make America a place where she is overwhelmed with gratitude at the help that is available to her and ready to catch her if she stumbles?

Hope needs help. We all do; but as long as we think of ourselves as separate and autonomous, and not connected and interdependent, we’ll never get that help.

Sometimes the greatest gift you can give to someone is to allow them to give to you.

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