We chaplains and spiritual directors are supposed to maintain strict confidentiality, and this rule has come about so that we may protect those we serve. At the same time there are groups of people whose voices are rarely heard, and part of their disenfranchisement and suffering arises from being voiceless.
Part of my calling to empower and give voice to the marginalized has to be to show the giftedness of these sons and daughters of God and to give them an opportunity to speak and be heard. As we listen, I pray that our hearts may be opened to the content of their message. I pray also that we would become aware of how we are wasting potential when anyone has to put all their energy into fighting to survive. Just think of how our society might benefit if the talent that today goes to waste instead could be put to use for the good of all.
The following are the words of a homeless woman as she talked about something for which she is grateful. Please read her words slowly and allow them to speak to the depths of your soul:
“Every night when I get ready to sleep at the shelter or under a bridge, I crawl into my sleeping bag and pull it over my head. I have to pray quietly because I have learned that some people will get really angry if they hear me praying. So I pull the sleeping bag over my head and speak softly so no-one can hear me. First I pray that God would protect me so I don’t get beaten up or assaulted during the night while I sleep. Then I pray that even if I do get assaulted I would know that it is only my body that is being harmed and that no-one can harm my soul. And then I pray that God would anoint me. The thing I am grateful for is that wonderful feeling – I can almost feel God’s hands put the warm oil on my face – and I am comforted and feel so blessed.”
Gentle reader, God filled my heart with a deeply consoling shame as I listened to her. She showed me that gratitude has more to do with how we choose to live than on the security of things. It has to do with faith.
Query for prayerful reflection:
Is my heart truly open to experiencing God’s blessing, anointing and comfort?