Monthly Archives: May 2011

Open My Eyes To…

Below is a prayer I wrote in response to an article at Read the Spirit. Readers were asked to start with the lines, “Open my eyes to…”

Open my eyes to Christ in me and Christ on the margins

Christ left behind
Christ demonized
Christ ostracized
Christ pushed out

Open my eyes to myself on the margins
Myself left behind
Myself demonized
Myself ostracized
Myself pushed out
So that may have compassion, strength, and grace to be in Solidarity with Christ on the margins.

Open my eyes to Christ in me.

Welcome to Poor Pilgrim

12th century Chapel of St. Odhran near the Abbey of Iona.

Midway through our retreat during the Pilgrimage for Change, our group participated in a walking pilgrimage around the tiny Isle of Iona. Philip Newell brought us to the crossroads and his question still echo’s in my ear: “who now will you stand with?”

As we continued on to Columba’s Bay, I cried as I felt a deep call to stand with those on the margins. To follow Christ among those who have been ostracized, pushed out, and left behind. To speak up on their behalf and stand in solidarity with their suffering. Fr. Richard Rohr says, “Only as the People of God receive the stranger, the sinner, and the immigrant, those who don’t play our game our way, do we discover not only the hidden, feared, and hated parts of our own souls, but the fullness of Jesus himself.  We need them for our own conversion.”

As I reflect on my own journey, it seems clear to me that the places where I’ve felt the most shame, guilt, anger, or frustration have brought about the most restoration, redemption and renewal. Where I have been weak, Christ has been strong. The stone that the builder rejected has become the cornerstone. Fr. Gregory Boyle sums it up like this, “Soon we imagine, with God, this circle of compassion. Then we imagine no one standing outside of that circle, moving ourselves closer to the margins so that the margins themselves will be erased.” As I’ve found Christ to have compassion for me, I seek to have compassion for others. And this compassion feels like a deep call to move towards the margins of the church, society, and culture.

As with most shifts in one’s life, this feels really big, a little grandiose, and I’m not even sure what it all looks like. Either way, the Poor Pilgrim Blog will be a place to bring these reflections and stories to the surface. Thanks for reading.

Stop Throwing People Away

Only kinship. Inching ourselves closer to creating a community of kinship such that God might recognize it. Soon we imagine, with God, this circle of compassion. Then we imagine no one standing outside of that circle, moving ourselves closer to the margins so that the margins themselves will be erased. We stand there with those whose dignity has been denied. We locate ourselves with the poor and the powerless and the voiceless. At the edges, we join the easily despised and the readily left out. We stand with the demonized so that the demonizing will stop. We situate ourselves right next to the disposable so that the day will come when we stop throwing people away. The prophet Habakuk writes, “The vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment and it will not disappoint…and if it delays, wait for it.”  Kinship is what God presses us on to, always hopeful that its time has come.

Excerpted from Tattoos on the Heart. Father Gregory “Greg” Joseph Boyle, S.J. (born May 19, 1954) is a Jesuit Roman Catholic priest. He is the director and founder of Homeboy Industries and former pastor of Dolores Mission Church.

H/T: Brian Mogren

The Outcast Re-Invited

Those at the edge of any system and those excluded from any system, ironically and invariably hold the secret for the conversion and wholeness of that very group.  They always hold the feared, rejected, and denied parts of the group’s soul.  You see, therefore, why the church was meant to be that group that constantly went to the edges, to the “least of the brothers and sisters,” and even to the enemy.  Jesus was not just a theological genius, but he was also a psychological and sociological genius.  When any church defines itself by exclusion, it is always wrong.  It is avoiding its only vocation, which is to be the Christ.

Only as the People of God receive the stranger, the sinner, and the immigrant, those who don’t play our game our way, do we discover not only the hidden, feared, and hated parts of our own souls, but the fullness of Jesus himself.  We need them for our own conversion.

The Church is always converted when the outcasts are re-invited back into the temple.  You see this in Jesus’ commonly sending marginalized people that he has healed, back into the village, back to their family, or back to the temple to “show themselves to the priests.”  It is not just for their re-inclusion and acceptance, but actually for the group itself to be renewed.

-Richard Rohr, Adapted from Radical Grace: Daily Meditations, p. 28, day 2

You Knew Betrayal

You knew betrayal in your life, O Christ.
One whom you loved turned against you.
Our lives are filled with betrayals.
Men and women and whole communities turn against one another.
Strengthen us in the way of faithfulness, O Christ,
that we may be true to you, to our own depths and to one another.
Strengthen us in the way of faithfulness.

J. Philip Newell, Celtic Treasure (Canterbury Press Norwich: 2005) p196.

You Are My People

If you haven’t already, go download David Bazan’s latest album, Strange Negotiations. Below are the lyrics to “People.”

when i was young

i saw people helping people

all the time
because you were
people-helping-people
in your prime
i thought people-loving-people
were the norm
because you were people
loving people
before the long dark storm
but now you’re selfish and mean
your eyes glued to a screen
and what titillates you
is depraved and obscene
and i know that it’s dangerous to judge
but man you’ve gotta find the truth
and when you find that truth don’t budge
until the truth you found begins to change
and it does i know i know
when you love the truth enough
you start to tell all the time
when it gets you into trouble
you discover you don’t mind
cause if good is finally gonna trump
than man you’ve gotta take stock
and you’ve gotta take your lumps
or else they trickle down
into someone else’s cup below
you know
i wanna know who are these people
blaming their sins on the fall
who are these people
if i’m honest with myself at all
these are my people
man what else can i say
you are my people
and we’re the same in so many ways
then your eyes turned green
and you broke the machine
that when handed to you
was still kind of functioning
and i know

Prayer Before Sharing a Meal

While on Iona, I was asked to pray for one of our meals and after receiving some feedback, I decided to write it down.  I’ve probably lifted some lines from Wendell Berry or the Iona Community Prayer Book, but nevertheless, here it is:

Loving God, help us to share this meal together

with respect for paradox

Make us mindful of those who are without a meal today

Those sleeping on the streets

Those caught in the midst of war

And as we prepare to eat a meal of organic vegetables and free range meat

We thank you for the farmer who is now able to sustain a healthy farm

For the careful treatment of animals

For the migrant worker who is paid a living wage

For the gardener who has a warm bed in which to sleep

May the food give us energy and strength to work towards this coming Kingdom of Peace, Harmony, and Justice.

In the name of Christ, amen.