We sat on milk crates, covered with ripped towels and soaked feet and delved into toe jam and fungus with orange sticks and dremels behind the mural of Christ in the Bread line in downtown LA.
The parrot mural, bright back drop for our table of supplies was miraculously below a strange naked tree with green fruit that the parrots periodically visited while we worked. People came and had their feet treated and then came back again to visit. Meals continued as always and continue now while I sit here softly in my bed writing, flanked by my favorite morning companions, Spooke and Shadow, my house cats.
While in LA, we spoke a lot of destiny in trying to make sense of the tragedy that befell some people. Before going, I had always wanted to believe that people had control over their fate and I confused fate with destiny. I looked up the 2 words and it seems the dictionary on my I phone confuses them too as the definitions are exactly the same. Both indicate a predetermination, usually decried by an omnipotent being. If thats the case, then the people of Skid row and all other places where the conditions are harsh and inhumane, the ones who maintain their humanity and show kindness and resiliency even when it seems impossible to do so, the ones who continue to hope, must be the walking saints of the world. For how else can fate make any sense?
But then, what of the people who resort to drugs and violence to cope? I ask myself this because I don't know how I would fare if the bottom fell out of my life. Would I be able to trust in God, in some divine intervention bringing me to a place of utter vulnerability as acceptable? And if I couldn't maintain my faith, does it mean I am loved any less? Did Jesus love the sinners less?
Richard Rohr this morning writes of restorative justice and within his lovely paragraphs writes "Love is the only things that transforms the human heart." And this is exactly what the workers who come to LACW do. They love. Simply and in action and in it they allow themselves to be the human people they are and, AND.. they continue to show up. And somehow, that is the piece that matters. By being there daily, they continue to bring love int he form of food, smiles, jokes, gardens, blooms, dentistry, blankets and everything else. It is a love of action, tangible and deep. Its the commitment to be present that makes them remarkable. For when it hurts, when the pain they view and hold space in their hearts for becomes overwhelming, they continue.