they keep coming

One of the passages read at church Sunday was Mk 6.31-34:

Jesus said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while." For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a lonely place by themselves.

Now many saw them going, and knew them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns, and got there ahead of them. As he went ashore he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd...

They keep coming. Friday night after we closed the house there were two emergency calls. One woman was stranded at the bus station and the security guard was calling to find her a place for the night. The other call was from a nurse at the hospital who had a woman there who was fleeing domestic abuse but could find no room at the local domestic abuse shelter (it was after midnight by this time).

I managed to let them in and provide a place on our couches. And the next morning Heather helped me sort out their stories and find bus fare to get them on their way. Heather was very good with the woman who was fleeing. She was nervous and needed to be comforted, and Heather invited her into her room and helped her prepare for her journey to a safer place. We felt good again about helping those two women.

But they keep coming. The very next night a woman showed up on the porch late, very drunk and crying. Her boyfriend had spend her money on drugs, money she had been saving to pay a fine that would keep her out of jail. When she got angry, he called the police and had her removed. Since she had no where else to go, they left her on our front porch.

She cried and talked for a long time. About her losses, her life of pain. And God. She said she believed in God, she believed there was a God, and she believed he hated her. She said she now understood how some women turned to prostitution, how others became criminals. Mostly I listened. And gave her some sliced turkey (she was ravenous for meat, since she had been living on noodles for quite a while). She thanked me for being a friend and eventually was able to sleep.

I felt pretty good about that night, though I was exhausted the next day. Heather helped me get some more rest. But the experience of the "great throng" in need makes me feel vulnerable. And the couple that was asked to leave our house is still around, having trouble actually making the move and not very open to my efforts to help.

I'm resisting the tendency to try to take control. I'm trying to rest in God's handling of the world and just do what I can to show love through personal contact and being a helpful servant. But it feels scary. Like many of the moments when I was out on the road and not knowing how things would turn out.

I'm reminded of these lines by Raissa Maritain, who I quoted in a journal entry this summer during my walk (there's also some other good insights in that journal entry, so I put it in our newsletter that's coming out this week):
I have the feeling that what is asked of us is to live in the whirlwind, without keeping back any of our substance, without keeping back anything for ourselves... in fact to let ourselves pitch and toss in the waves of the divine will till the day when it will say: "That's enough."