Two quick quotes prime the pump for reflections on this sixth section of Fr. Jim Cormack’s series of reflections on service to the marginalized.
The first is from Helen Keller, probably the most recognized blind person who has ever lived. “What would be worse than being born blind? To have sight without vision.”
The second, variously attributed, is the question the little boy asked the great sculptor Michaelangelo. “Hey, mister, how did you know there was a lion In that stone?”
A Jesuit from Malta answered the question “I knew there was a lion in the marble because before I saw the lion in the marble, I saw him in my own heart. The secret is that it was the lion in my heart that recognized the lion in the marble.”
Vincent and Louise lived out of the vision that saw the dignity of the human person in the least of their brothers and sisters.
They recognized themselves in their brothers and sisters.
They were both willing to commit to the hard work and to suffer the pain involved in being persons who had that vision.
Fr. Cormack writes…
6) People of Vision
There are more questions to ask in this matter of service.
- Are we visionary enough to serve?
- Are we able to operate not so much with answers or even programs, as necessary as they may be, but with vision, with hopes and dreams?
- Can we glimpse in moments of musing and prayer the kingdom God calls us to create?
Life soon enough teaches us the gap between hopes and reality; but a servant of the poor never concedes the gap cannot be bridged. The one called to serve says the kingdom is being built, though incomplete. Persons of vision lead us to where we must go. He or she does not leave us lost in the brokenness, the pain or the boredom of now. They draw us together and lead us forward.
The vision, these hopes and dreams, must be nurtured or they slowly evaporate. A people without vision, a servant without hope, cannot endure; they break apart and disintegrate. We can keep hopes and dreams fresh and alive through prayer. Prayer is that time with the Source, presence in the place where nothing is done, but all things conceived. Do we wonder about all that is and might be, about all we cannot understand or control? Friends who dream and hope with us, who share their own understanding and vision can invigorate us. Slowing down occasionally, changing places to remember how much more there might one day be, can feed our spirits. Do we choose to touch what is good and great about being alive, and feeling, and knowing? As difficult and perilous as life may be, living it wholeheartedly, both weeping and laughing, falling and rising again can nurture life, hopes and dreams.
Are we willing to suffer the pain involved in being persons of vision? We often have to endure not only the laughter of those who cannot believe, but worse, the polite dismissals from those who know better. Visions and visionaries lead where we are to go, but the journey is never finished. We call and call again for justice. We answer over and over again the criticisms of the poor and their behavior when it is mal-adaptive. No one accepts. Still we call. Everyone thinks we are foolish, unrealistic, and unsuccessful. Still we speak of what might be if we live what we believe about being the Body of Christ, of what one day God’s reign might bring.
This leads to us consider whether we can live and work and remain at peace, though we don’t live in the harvest time. Not only do others dismiss us, but often our efforts seem to go nowhere, help no one, change nothing. Those we help leave. We are never finished, often too busy, sometimes no more than providers and not persons. What we value and treasure most is ignored or misunderstood. We work and work well, and our reward is simply more work. Granted, what I have just said is overstated, because there are people who are grateful and give support. Still the challenge to apostolic zeal is trusting that some things only God can repay and only in God’s time. We may plant and water and never see the increase. Can we trust and keep on going? God will, surely and in time, bring about what is promised, what our dreams tell us is to be.