This past week I had a conversation with a young man who had stopped by the parish wondering if we could help him find a place to live. I’ve said in this space before that our office staff sometimes refers these visitors to me by letting me know that “Jesus is here.” In the case of this young man, that was particularly apt – there was something about him that I can best describe as gentle intensity. We sat down out in the back of the church and had a conversation about where he had been that day and how he got here. He told me that once in a while he would take the express bus that stops here at Guardian Angels, the one that takes people into the city. He said it made him feel like he was going somewhere and he would pretend that he had a good job downtown just like many of the other riders. “I always give up my seat if the bus is too full,” he said. “My grandpa taught me that.” He let me know that he hadn’t been able to hold a job because of some struggles with mental illness and now he couldn’t afford the medication to keep him on an even keel. “Today’s a good day,” he said, “but tomorrow? Who knows?” I could make a couple of referrals for him of places that could work with assistance with his medications and an apartment. I could take him over to the food shelf, give him a Target gift card to pick up some personal care items. Not a lot, but he was grateful. Near the end of our conversation he pulled a crumpled 3x5 card out of his pocket that he had been carrying around for a few weeks. He’d gotten it from a volunteer at the Dorothy Day Center in St. Paul. On one side it said, “You are more than the mistakes you have made.” On the other, “Do not forget that Jesus walks with you.” This young man is a reminder to me that all of us ought to be part of a community that builds structures of support that can catch people when they fall.
This week, I invite you to think about how you can be a part of that community. Need ideas? Watch this page for opportunities.