In some ways, we are all beggars, relying on the mercy of a bountiful God. I think the saints such as Francis, Clare and Ignatius knew this. Some people know this well. This woman, bent over, head pressed humbly to the ground, rosary in hand, clearly knows she is dust. I pray she also knows she is Light, a reminder that points the way to those of us who think we cannot fall from grace and end up in her situation. I have worked with the least of these in life- abused women, male inmates, homeless people, and severely disabled young people. All of these people know poverty in some form. I have learned lessons of humility from them.
I do not know this woman’s story nor the many other beggars I have seen on this pilgrimage of mine. I do know that it is people like this that spark our hearts to be changed. Francis and Clare both embraced poverty as a way of life. As I head home, I wonder how my own heart will be changed because of this trip. At the moment I do not have any inklings or if it is just confirmation to continue the way I already serve. I may finally embrace a simpler way of life.
At the source of my being is gratitude. I know that not everyone can take tree weeks of vacation (assuming that people even have a job to take a holiday from). I also know that not everyone is blanketed in the care and prayer of friends and family as I have been. God is good. I pray that the woman in this photo also somehow experiences that too–that she will know mercy and compassion in this life. I also pray that she may unsettle our comfortableness and call us to seek the One who was born poor in a stable.