july 17, 2000

Here's the last story from my journals that I think I'll use at the Catholic Worker. It's supposed to be about the challenge pilgrimage offers, focusing on the image of the tax audit:

That church was definitely the right place to go. The Sunday school was stimulating--good discussion, for the first time in three weeks. Then, before the service starts, a guy comes up and says he passed me walking twice in the last two days, and he invites me to dinner...

I talked over an hour each with the pastor, his wife, and their son, whose home I visited. Many of the challenges of pilgrimage came out in conversation, more than with anyone else I've met, which pleased me. ...I had dinner and supper, stayed the night, and everyone was friendly and inquisitive. At the evening prayer meeting, the pastor's daughter gave me a lunch to take today and another man (her husband?) slipped me an envelope with $25 in it. I slept great and had a good breakfast before I left (also got a shower and my laundry done). A very open and giving family who definitely knows the love of God.

An interesting scene as I left: They were being audited by the IRS. I suddenly saw all the challenges about business and politics drawn together in one image. The IRS auditor coming to their house as they scrambled to put receipts and numbers in order. They had a beautiful house, too (which he built himself, with bargain materials--though the auditor might be skeptical). Taxes, the price to pay for a ruler (as God warned when Israel begged for a king: 1 Sam 8). And here is not just taxes but the threat of punishment if they're not done right. Lots of anxiety, of course. Also the full weight of possessions, all in a pile of receipts and bills ("Walmart has a lot of our money," he says)--he's self-employed, so it's all under scrutiny. Both husband and wife were scurrying around the papers at 8am; the auditor comes tomorrow. As I walked away, with a very light pack, I said I'd pray for them. I pray they (and everyone) be released from the economic and political yoke. But it's really a yoke we each take on ourselves. A very different yoke than the one Jesus called "easy"--his yoke, a relief for the laborer, the overburdened. Just watch an audit and see how different it is.

On the way out of town, I walked by an ice cream/dairy delivery truck and the driver jumped out and ran over to me with an ice cream cone. No explanation, just a smile.