Over the last several weeks I have been blogging about my experience with ERN, a network that provides diverse support to refugee families including: language interpretation, transportation and guidance, food for the families, and tutoring for their children. What has become explicitly clear to me is that it provides more, much more, to the recipients as well as to those of us who are involved. Hospitality, that’s the more! Yes, I get to see the smiling faces on the children when they learn the difference between, “no” and “know”, and the warm appreciation and thanksgiving offered by the adults when they receive their bags of fruits and vegetables. This is all good, but what is most heartwarming is the feeling of togetherness in the world. I don’t have to understand Arabic or Burmese to receive the feeling being communicated…Maybe it’s like trying to define LOVE….words just don’t always do it.
Scripture invites and challenges us to care for the marginalized, those on the fringe, our “Neighbor”. When we offer our hand and heart to help another, by having food to eat, we are sharing a meal, “Breaking Bread”, in a way. I have come to appreciate this more. I am being fed as well, all this in the spirit of love and life. The plastic bags full of vegetables and fruit are handed over to our guests with love and they are received in love. How great and wonderful is that? I love the feeling and am blessed by this opportunity.
Tutoring helps provide a language to communicate with words and expressions needed to facilitate living in San Diego today, but the feelings, expressions, and body-language I see, and feel, go right to the core of who I am. I have been growing in my ability to see all the gifts that we have, freely given: breath, beautiful weather, safe water to drink, a roof over our heads, and life to live another day, etc., through a different lens. The lens is, “Who is my Neighbor?”, and this is a beautiful view. This is a form of the “Grace” freely given, so often spoken about in my religious life; but when I feel it in my spiritual being, it hits home and lets the “Good News” take life and form.
The network continues to provide interesting stories of encounters with my “neighbor”, people I did not know existed, with stories and lives that are different from my own, but similar in so many ways. The “spider monkey” a dad brought home from a hunting trip to his children in the South Sudan, like the puppy we may have received from a parent, who DID NOT get buy-in from the other parent…Yep, the Monkey and the Puppy both went to a farmer friend who “Had more room and would be a better home for the monkey and/or the puppy”. I never did buy that story, did YOU? See how similar all our lives evolve, no matter where we are born, what language we speak, or what national origin. We are all the same, children of God and worthy of our neighbor’s love!!!
We are all trying to live a common life, sharing our lives with one another in the best way we can. I have been blessed with the opportunity to infiltrate a community of needing, caring, living and loving brothers and sisters, young and old….“neighbors”. In their eyes I see my own life. In their hearts, and in my own, I feel the love of God manifested in sharing part of our journeys in life with one another.