Reflections at Day's End

(Note: These next posts are back-logged. Published in order of their writing, but late. For the silence of the last couple of days, I apologize, but the days were so full, I was so exhausted, and the computers were often not available.)

Four full days have passed. We're over the hump -- only three days left. It's been a terribly busy and exhausting time, yet has been as rewarding as any work I've ever done.

Sometimes, it has seemd like I'm doing little or nothing, strangely enough. Working as a host at Goodsoil Central is quiet. Looking for someone to engage in conversation in the halls can be very slow. Finding -- yet again -- that my table partners at meals are already on board, leaves me feeling a little useless. And yet, I know that none of this is a waste of time. Just by being here, we make a huge difference. I have heard it called a "ministry of presence." We are prayerfully engaged -- even if we haven't convinved anyone to change their mind or their vote.

It's rather like occupying that building at 2515 Waugh and having a few visitors on Sundays, and then not having them come back. Is it a waste of time? Not at all. We don't know what that visitor experienced in his or her time at Grace. Perhaps "all" we did was to plant a seed of God's love and grace, which will flower at some other time and in some other place. We may never know the outcome when we do the work we've been called and chosen to do, bu that's okay. It's in God's hands and on God's time.

As it is at home, so is it here. I may not get the immediate response I'd like when I have a conversation with someone, but that doesn't mean I haven't made a difference.

The one real conversation I've had with someone I didn't know was a half-hour spent with a man who, as it turned out, was just another visitor. I don't know why he is here -- he didn't say -- but he had a lot of good, honest questions about policy change. I didn't get a chance to tell one of my prepared stories because he was so curious, but I realized in retrospect that I had told a story after all. I had told him the story of my conviction. He thanked me when we were done, said I'd given him a lot to think about, and added that now he thought he understood the importance of full inclusion.

I also realized, in retrospect, that I had given him the opportunity to tell several parts of his own story -- one part of whcih was really quite heart-wrenching, about his gay brother-in-law, a Pentecostal minister, who lived a secret life and who ended up being killed with his male lover in what sounded like it may have been a hate crime. My new friend, from a small town in Iowa, confessed that he had held mixed feelings about his wife's brother's secret, but that I had helped to open a window, at least, to an understanding of the religious intolerance which had led indirectly to the tragic ending of the story. I have no doubt, now, that the Holy Spirit led me to be in the same place as that man that evening, and I thank God that he received the touch of God's grace through our time together.

No, this trip has in no way been a waste for me, or for any of us. We may never know how our prayerful presence has shown God's grace to others, but that's okay. We're here. And most importantly, God is here.

Laura B

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