Get a glimpse into the life and and work of a Community Organizer and church worker in the heart of the Jersey side of the NY metro-area.

Friday, March 9, 2012

So I have a confession to make...

Yesterday I was supposed to be in Guttenberg, NJ, but my part-time employer told me that she was ill. So, having already announced that I would not be at the office, I decided that I would spend the gorgeous day out of the office since I was locked in all weekend with a nasty cold. And it was truly gorgeous out there. I wandered the length of Hoboken's (where I got to see my All Saints kids playing some basketball in the Steven's park area) and Jersey City's waterfronts. I was very much set apart from the suits and corporate types in my shorts and United Nations t-shirt, and those white and brown Adidases I love so much because they look like spatz. :-)
 Uptown Hoboken
View from Uptown Hoboken

Anyhow, I was doing my natural meandering, marveling at the NY skyline down along the Jersey City waterfront when I ran across a couple from the shelter I used to work at. Amid all the afternoon bustle in a section of Jersey City where I was not expecting to know anyone from Adam, a familiar voice called out, "Rich, is that you?" I was caught so completely off guard! I caught up with them both, and their new son, while the sun shone so brightly on our brief encounter.

This struck me because this passing week has brought a number of things to my mind that haven't been on the forefront of my thoughts in some time. Besides some of the things that happened in the shelter, my mind wandered into someone I used to drive door-to-door from Temba Home in Mthatha, ZA.

A small section Itipini (in Xhosa literally "the dump")

Temba Home was a facility for the most desperate cases of HIV infection. There must have been 40 people,  men and women, who were placed in a small compound on a southern hill facing Mthatha's downtown, which was actually a better view than it sounds. In any case, one man in particular needed a ride most days a week from Temba to an acute care station in downtown Mthatha. He was a walking skeleton, with only the grip on a cane to hold his wait down, otherwise I swear the winds would have taken him away long ago. His name no longer finds itself in my thoughts, but he does. He moved so slow the first time I picked him up. You could tell he was in agony, every movement an aching push toward another painful twist of muscles and tendons near the brink of total loss. His face was more skull than skin, his teeth larger than his shrunken lips, cheek bones like jagged outcroppings from his drained expressions.

But for many weeks we did our routine, and each week he picked up a little steam, looked a little healthier, and moved a little faster. He never lost the cane during my time there, but he definitely found some will to keep living, and it made him in part if not completely whole again. I do not know where the strength came from, but it was there. The memory of this man will surely live with me forever.

Sometimes it takes time, movement, and a slow, near silent friendship to see God out there, to see resurrection. If I ever saw it, it was with those individuals at Temba Home and the soot-red dusty hillsides of Itipini in Mthatha.

So as I bounce along whatever path I happen to be taking from day-to-day, I try to keep my eyes peeled and my ears open for the voices and faces that seek me out, so I don't miss these chances at real relationship and the hope of an even brighter tomorrow for all of us.

No comments:

Post a Comment