At the end of today’s readings was a quote by St. Augustine: Two things here on earth are essential: health and a friend. They are the two things most to be prayed for. The Gospel reading today tells a similar story, saying that the Bread of God which comes down from heaven gives life to the world. Jesus, our friend, brings health and healing. Both images made me grateful.
One of the activities that I have been doing lately is an ongoing graced history. This is a form of prayer where one reviews one’s life and looks for the blessings received. I am remembering my friends and various parts of my story that have brought me life. I have been thinking about the jobs that I have had and the amazing bosses for the most part. My work has been fulfilling and meaningful. The people I have worked with have been committed to the task at hand, whether it has been helping children, creating access, or building peace. The other day I was thinking about my intern experience at Sojourners magazine. I met some very good souls there who remain dear to me even if I have not seen them in decades. These people taught me about peace, relationships, life-long learning, laughter, and commitment.
I was not actually great at my job so it is a good thing I had a set of other skills that helped people forgive my typing inadequacies. Life within the community grew my brain, my heart and my spirit. I learned to love in ways I never knew possible. I craved interaction with motivated people doing the work of God. I participated in small acts of civil disobedience and felt one with our global village. My mind was cracked wide open by the violence that lurked in our neighbourhood–the constant shootings, the racial violence, the prostitution, the kids who were hungry, the illegal aliens, and the drugs. I learned how to pray in earthy ways serving in the food line: Help us to recognize Jesus when he comes through that door. I valued the small group of us who took the time to pray together daily for our ministry and our needs. I saw strong marriages and healthy families. The concept of caring for each other as one body inspired me time and again.
It is not to say that everything was ideal. The community struggled with sexual harassment within its ranks and power dynamics were a bit skewed. Mostly though, this experience taught me that when God is at the centre of relationships, redemption of even these sins can occur. When we have our whole health–mind, body and spirit–and friends we have the essentials for earthlings to be at peace. Even if part of our health fades or falters, friends and Jesus, Bread for the World, are enough.
I am grateful beyond words for that eye-opening year and for the people who made it a life-changing experience. Take a moment to pick a significant part of your life to review. Pray for all the people who helped shape you into the person you are today.