I feel humbled. And sad. And wishing that I was a lottery winner or the inventor of something brilliant and money worthy.
I have a parishioner, who I’ll call Clark. Clark is an older man, with a couple of illnesses. He moves from tenement to tenement, looking for places that are safe, drug free and affordable–an unlikely trinity in this city. He’s currently homeless (for another 2 hours and 10 minutes). He came up for communion tonight and unlike his usual response after I commune him of “God Bless you, Sarah,” tonight Clark stumbled. He took the bread from me. And the wine from the deacon. And then the deacon gave the wine back to me for me to finish. He walked back and said to me: “I didn’t get a good sip,” so I gave him the chalice again. And he sipped a small sip. And then he stumbled. “Are you okay?” I asked. “Yes, I’m okay. Good night, Sarah,” he said.
I walked out of the church, down the side aisle and found him lying on the back pew. A few minutes later our deacon/nurse and I sat with him and began to sort out his life. He can’t cash a check until midnight, so for 4 hours, he will ride the El until then to keep warm. Then he will rent a room at a less than lovely hotel, but he’ll be off the streets tonight. Tomorrow he will get back on the meds he’s been off for a month because he hasn’t been able to afford the monthly CTA pass to get to the center where he gets his meds. I bought him dinner, so he has a full belly.
I can’t do much for many with my limited means. But Clark is a long time member, who knows the liturgy better than most anybody. And a dear man. And as I sit at home, in my comfy PJs, having eaten some leftover steak, I find myself thinking about him. It’s cold. And Christ is Risen. Here’s the rub, we are an Easter people. Redemption has come and yet the work–the work remains.