This is an East door of the cathedral. A homeless woman is sleeping there with hear head protected by the stones of our cathedral. She had approached me earlier that day and I tensed, assuming she would be asking me for money and I hate being asked for money by strangers. Most of us do.
But she never asked for money. She walked with me and Kai for a bit and she was asking about how she could be a better Godmother to her Godchildren even as a person experiencing homelessness. It’s a quandary. How indeed?
And how is it that a woman experiencing homelessness has on her mind an act of spiritual hospitality? And how is it that my mind was so consumed by the stewardship campaign that I found it hard even to answer her question?
She was wandering in her heart even as she could not wander in the safety of her home as you and I do. She was busy counting her blessings about even having Godchildren, and friends who would choose her for that role. She said she would one day no longer be experiencing homelessness and I began to think about how grateful I am that I have a home and that it needs to be simple so that I may be free to give more money away to people like her – that nameless “her.”
It was only a few weeks ago that we launched the stewardship campaign.
Pledges are coming in but slowly. Some are frustrated with a change in our web site pledging. Some are frustrated by what seems (and is absolutely not) a slow Dean Search. Some are angry that they are not visited or called fast enough and so use their pledge to get our attention with threats and withdrawals. And then there are so many who have pledged, early, quickly, boldly, with massive increases doubling and tripping their pledges in high hopes for a new year and a new day and a new Dean. And some withhold their pledge until they are sure they like the new Dean, like withholding a tip from a waitress because the cook may or may not have made them a good meal. Poor waitress.
Stewardship is about being aware of what we have been given by God. What would change pledging at Saint John’s? Well, I hope that improved systems and a valuable mission, but also perhaps sitting on these stones with this woman, giving her a plate of food. Asking her about her life (she is homeless because her husband beat her and then tried to rape her) and then considering how blessed our lives are. That would work.
But few of us, even me, would dare to approach her, wake her, and begin to wonder about life’s twists and turns together. An yet to do so, would be our salvation. We, she and I, are both equally beloved of God and that alone is cause for deep wondering.
Please pledge so that we may fund a bold mission in 2017. Please pledge soon (today is the last day the mails will get a pledge to the cathedral before the Parish Dinner on November 16th. Please excuse the malfunctioning of the payments part of the online pledge page – we will fix it today – it’s a glitch we did not anticipate. And when you wonder if you should pledge or should increase your pledge, face your doubts with wonder at all we could do together next year. Please. And then pledge. Or increase your pledge. And then let’s celebrate our church home on November 16th at 6:00 in the nave. One way to be grateful is to celebrate together, pray together, eat tgether, dance together. Wonder together.
In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream, A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
John O’Donohue To Bless the Space Between Us