hearth and heart


Last week, on Thursday, as the sun began to stretch long shadows in yellow light across the city of Denver, I was busy driving through maddening traffic to the city’s far west end.  It was a desolate place of garages and metal shops with twenty-dollar-a-night motels for the nearly homeless to cast their last throw of dice for a better life before finding themselves on the cathedral lawn with a bag of clothes and hope of ecclesial refuge – an ancient tradition.
He had called the cathedral asking for counsel and not  to ask for money.  His mother and father both lay in hospital with different cancers and his daughter in a third hospital as a result of a car accident caused by her mother.  He had a job but was awaiting a paycheck which would not arrive in time for his motel eviction the next morning at 10:00 am for the lack of a weekly rent of $140 – the amount many would pay for a dinner for two, or a sweater.

Damned if I was going to let them add him to the homeless statistics, and without the slightest care if he was telling the truth or the whole truth I helped God – I climbed into my car with a discretionary check made possible by the pledges of our congregation.  I drove out there and gave him the $140.  He called me the next day, when his paycheck had arrived, to inquire how he could return the money. Gut. Check. Mate.

So far so good.  He is still employed.  He is not homeless.  He is able to visit his daughter and he is coming to Saint John’s – a 45 minute drive by bus. When I saw him, he asked me how I was doing and I told him I was moving into a new home and having a house blessing.  He smiled and said “We have homes.” And he winked. And his smile sparkled a bit like an angel-unawares.   When he turned away, I began to weep, unsure of why the tears were bidden by unseen thoughts.  Perhaps gratitude.

I signed my pledge card, delivered it to accounting and went home to host a house blessing which was beautifully executed by my beloved theologian John’s blessing for a new home.  It is a perfect home for me.  It was a perfect blessing for my home.

A Blessing for a new Home
By John O’Donohue

May this house shelter your life,
When you come in home here,
May all of the weight of the world
Fall from your shoulders.

May your heart be tranquil here,
Blessed by peace the world cannot give.

May this home be a lucky place,
Where the graces of your desires
Always find the pathway to your door.

May nothing destructive
Ever cross your threshold.

May this be a safe place
Full of understanding and acceptance,
Where you can be as you are,
Without the need of any mask
Or pretense or image.

May this home be a place of discovery,
Where the possibilities that sleep
In the clay of your soul can emerge
To deepen and refine your vision
For all that is yet to come to birth.

May it be a house of courage,
Where healing and growth are loved,
Where dignity and forgiveness prevail;
A home where patience of spirit is prized,
And the sight of the destination is never lost
Through the journey be difficult and slow.

May there be great delight around this hearth.

May it be a house of welcome
For the broken and diminished.

May you have the eyes to see
That no visitor arrives without a gift
And no guest leaves without a blessing.

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