Thursday, June 11, 2009

Going it alone

Matthew Spotts, a Jesuit novice who made the Long Retreat at the same time I did has written a short reflection about the film The Soloist. The film looks at the relationship between a journalist (Steve Lopez, who used to write for my hometown paper, the Philadelphia Inquirer) and a homeless man - and gifted cellist - he tries to help. Coming as he is out of a short period working with homeless men in Washington, DC, Matthew's comments are thought provoking.

As I traipse into and through Philadelphia every few weeks, homelessness and the mental illness that is so often part and parcel of it is more visible to me than it is in my sheltered surburban neighborhood. Nearly every time I go, I encounter the same gentleman in the church where my spiritual director is pastor. We have the same conversation each time. He wants to know my parish, if I'm a nun, why I've come, what am I praying for. At first I resented the intrusion into my silence, into my time to prepare to see my director. Until the parallel to that very meeting struck me. My director often begins by asking, "How is your prayer?"

Who am I encountering in that space between spaces? Between the street and the pastor's office? Would I brush off Christ if he stopped by me in the pew and asked, "What are you praying for?" As, of course, I was. And I'd likely be just as tongue-tied in response.


  1. re homelessness: Yes. I also often (always?) feel uncomfortable and want to escape that discomfort, but I do not think living in Christ is comfortable. Thank you for this.

    (Far too many words, and I initially simply only wanted to put "yes", but here are some more:)

    From the Vatican biography:

    "Always a woman of intense prayer, Katharine found in the Eucharist the source of her love for the poor and oppressed and of her concern to reach out to combat the effects of racism . . . For the last 18 years of her life she was rendered almost completely immobile because of a serious illness. During these years she gave herself to a life of adoration and contemplation as she had desired from early childhood. She died on March 3, 1955." (amazing: this lived Eucharistic nexus of active/activist/contemplative lifestyle).

    Katharine left a four-fold dynamic legacy to her Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, who continue her apostolate today, and indeed to all peoples: (noting two)

    – her love for the Eucharist, her spirit of prayer, and her Eucharistic perspective on the unity of all peoples;

    – her total giving of self, of her inheritance and all material goods in selfless service of the victims of injustice. "

  2. Ha, so here are some more words:
    *the "also" was meant to describe my own reaction which occurs as a connection of something of what you mentioned and a personal feeling of discomfort, not to suggest that you felt discomfort.

  3. Thanks! I'm going to save this; Big Brother's school is reading "The Soloist" this summer, so I'll pass the article along to him after he reads the book (the day before school starts...) Lopez is always an interesting writer so I'll probably be reading the book myself as well.

  4. flacie - I'm sure you're spot on - I don't think living in Christ is comfortable, or meant to be. And yes, I did at first find these encounters uncomfortable, and in some ways they still are, but the underlying grace of them is slightly more apparent to me.

    Barb - When Big Brother finally sits down (in late August?!), he might want to browse more of Matthew's blog - his reflections during his time working with the homeless can be pretty powerful.