I live in Saint Matthew's Shelter for Men, a small ten-bed shelter in the basement of a church in downtown Chattanooga. The men here come and go. Some stay a few days...some a few weeks...some for months. They are required to be homeless, obviously, but also in a program of some sort of recovery. Most men have addictions, many have a mental health diagnosis, some are in job training programs, coming out of prison, some have HIV/AIDS. All of them are broken in some way, and haunted. They are dealing with anger, loss, sorrow and are usually bewildered by life. They have these huge, gaping wounds that bleed. So, here we are at the business of healing.
A very wise man once told me that if we are to heal the world we had better begin to heal ourselves. So, it is no wonder that every day I learn more about myself than anything else.
I am fifty-two years old. I am a Gregorian monk, living and working among the homeless people of this city. I see things you would not believe. I never dreamed the world could be so brutal. I never imagined that God's grace could be so beautiful.
I go to the YMCA to swim and soak and steam. One morning, I was sitting in the steam room with a group of other older, fat, bald guys. There was a young, very handsome, very well-endowed, very stunning hunka-hunka-burnin'-love in the steam room with us. When he stood to leave, he announced that he was going to work out for a while. One of my old, fat friends said: "Good for you, son. Just keep at it, and some day you will look just like us!"
I have grown very content in my own skin. I have somehow misplaced my vanity. I am happy now to pray and meditate and to live my little life serving those who have nothing. I have no agenda. My ambitions in this world have faded into a holy silence. Thanks be to God. I am like the pilgrim on the road carrying an ember which does not warm nor burn me. I have no need to be right anymore. What you think of me is none of my business.
There is only this great and terrible love. I spend it every day...or attempt to. Some simply throw it into the streets. But, what of that? There is always more love to give, and in the end, no love is wasted.
Our Brotherhood takes the motto of Saint Gregory: Soli Deo Gloria. To God alone the glory. I take it that the glory does not belong to presidents or queens or armies or Miss Gay Universe or even to vice-president Dick. But, I do see God's glory in the darkness of these early mornings, when the men wake from sleep like puppies, and drink coffee and talk in such quiet voices. God dances here.
Current Mood: awake
Current Music: Joni Mitchell