He walked into the church in the early morning hours with only socks on his feet, no shoes, and a torn shirt. He walked to the front, pausing once to show a parishioner his stained empty hands. An act of begging perhaps, an act of desperation certainly.
Fr. Chris began Mass in the downtown church. The gentleman walked to a pew on the far left, and soon after launched into a nonsensical vocal tirade, laden with expletives. He comes to the church often, many times sitting quietly, respectfully. Today was different. Today, he was struggling. Today, he was a little bit lost.
A couple of parishioners quietly walked him outside where he could and would continue to express his frustrations, the origin of which we know not. And Fr. Chris prayed. He stopped Mass and asked all of us to join in prayer for the struggling gentleman.
Holy Ghost is home to many of Denver’s homeless. Though no overnight quarters exist at the parish, many, like this morning’s visitor, come to the church for aid and comfort. The chapel remains open during most of the daytime hours and it is not unusual to find those who go without spending quiet moments the church.It is also a place where moments like this morning happen. It is a part of being in the city. It is a part of living in a broken world.
Moments like this morning’s are tough. Without much warning, they can quickly escalate. They can also quickly point out our own biases and beliefs, tendencies and habits, comforts and discomforts. Humans are disposed to find solutions; we do not do well with discomfort.
Yet, moments like this call us to something greater. They beg of us to better understand a hurting society and to wrestle with the plight of so many of our lost brothers and sisters.
To be lost is not necessarily a physical conundrum. It could be mental, it could be emotional, it could be spiritual, and it may well be more than one of those manifestations. The feeling of being lost may be centered on a specific life event or an area of uncertainty. It could be multidimensional. It might occur over a long period of time or it may be found in a particular moment of distress.
This morning was a moment of distress. It was a moment of distress not only for the parishioners and Fr. Chris, but also for the homeless gentleman in the church. He was lost and, painstakingly, he may continue to be lost for some time.
Many of us have the resources we need when we are lost – physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually. We have friends we can call, financial means we can access, places we can go and churches where we can spend quiet moments in prayer. Those like the gentleman at Holy Ghost earlier today probably do not.
In a special way today, let us pray for all those who experience distress and discomfort, and especially for those who do not have the resources they need when they are lost. “To live as true children of God means to love our neighbour and to be close to those who are lonely and in difficulty” – Pope Francis