She showed up again last night. Tears of shame overflowing their banks. Asking for money just one more time, I promise!

And I told her that there was no shame.

That we loved her. That we would help her.

Like always.

You see, she had divorced him years ago. Because he made her feel this big, she says, holding her index finger and thumb close together.

But they had moved back in together for economic reasons. She was drawing her social security check and he was working as a day laborer.

They were getting by.

Until he lost his job. And got cranky. And pushed her down.

And tore her to pieces with his words.

And tried to make her feel this big.

Again.

But she is strong. And she up and left.

Again.

And she doesn’t know where she’ll go in the long term. Or if there is a long term. She has a temporary place with a daughter-in-law.

But her whole family is trapped in a system that treats them like leftovers. Or gleanings. Nothing of value. Just pieces of the system that don’t quite fit.

(which is why, on a meta level, I’m a socialist)

But, of course, I can’t help but think that as we hand her money every few weeks that we are bribing her–this woman old enough to be my grandmother–to go away.

To leave us alone with our delusions that all is as it should be.

That whatever problems there are in this world are far away from us.

And this isn’t a pity party. Or a litany of self-hate.

And this isn’t an admission of shame or guilt, even.

But it is a time for mourning. And repentance. It is a time to reassess motives and actions and results. It is a time to realign spirits and hearts with the Love that is restoring the world.

To pledge, if only for her and only in my mind and heart, to make her life a delight.

* * *

Almighty and most merciful God, we remember before you
all poor and neglected persons whom it would be easy for us
to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick,
and all who have none to care for them. Help us to heal those
who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow
into joy. Grant this, Father, for the love of your Son, who for
our sake became poor, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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