"You believe the law of the heart!" Answering a call from a co-worker at Catholic Charities after 10:00 PM always means one thing -- there is a teen in crisis and s/he called the crisis hotline for help. After an argument, Tiffany's aunt said that she had to find another place to live. Not having anywhere else to turn, Tiffany walked into the restaurant with the big yellow Safe Place sign and asked for help. Tiffany knew that a big yellow sign on the outside of a business meant that the business had promised to help youth in trouble. She had learned about it at school. Catholic Charities hosts the hotline that connects 191 Safe Place sites in Forsyth County with resources that help youth in trouble --- 24/7. Tiffany's Mom has been incarcerated for most of her life. Her father wont have anything to do with her so she has spent most of her life being raised by a grandmother and an aunt. When we reached Tiffany's grandmother, it was after 11:00 PM and she was just getting off the late shift at work, but she agreed to meet with Tiffany and the Catholic Charities' social worker. The grandmother shared
Modern technologies allow us to shift our attention quickly. We are confident that we can pay attention to multiple things and people at any given time and we value dearly our devices that allow us to stay so accessible, and so flexible to choose what or whom gets our attention at any given moment. Few gatherings (in theaters, churches, classes, meetings) begin these days without the announcement to turn off, or at least silence our cell phones (with the latter option still enabling one to text and email). From religious journals to financial magazines to daily newspapers, there seems to be a growing interest in the value of being attentive to the task at hand or to the person in our presence. The underlying message in these varied media is the same - modern distractions and technological advances draw our attention away. Away from what? Depending on the particular concern of the writer, it might be our work, our driving, our learning, our family, our friends, and yes, even God. What all these articles seem to be recognizing is that we – humanity – are losing something very important when we do not give (pardon the use of an overused phrase),
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life” (Matthew 6:25-27).Considering this scripture verse it is clear that worry is not what you are called on to do however have you ever noticed times when you avoided something or denied yourself something because you were worried only to realize later that you never really had anything worth fearing? Anxiety often times works like that. Anxiety is based on an estimation of risk or danger that not only is not truly present but unlikely to happen or harm you in the way you fear it will. This then only serves to tax you emotionally and leave you no more secure than you were before you started about the business of worrying. Maybe
Not long after I began my position in Asheville I had an encounter with a food pantry client that served as a poignant reminder of how crucial and hopeful our services are. This gentleman had been coming to our Wednesday food pantry for quite some time. He is friendly, gregarious and always has on a smile. On this particularly frigid afternoon he explained that he did not have any way to transport the food home to his family. He asked if someone at the office might be willing to give him a ride. A few volunteers cheerfully offered. But because it was a busy day for the food pantry, I chimed in and said I could do it. “Thank you so much for the ride, sir.” “It’s no problem. Happy to help. Are you from Asheville originally?” “Born and raised. But most of my family have moved. Thanks for the food. We don’t know what we would do without it. We don’t have the money to go to the store. And we’re behind on rent. I wish there was some way I could give back.” “Turn left here?” “Yeah.” “We would be happy to have you as a volunteer at the
We received a call from a young mother of a two-year-old, who just learned she is pregnant. She was so overwhelmed with her situation that she didn't know what type of help to ask for. The home where she was living was condemned due to a bad leak. She and her son were suddenly homeless. After talking for a while, I realized one of the reasons she was so overwhelmed was that she only had one day left before the phone company planned to shut off her phone due to lack of payment. "My whole world is on that phone. Its the only way I can reach any one left who might be able to help me. My worst fear is that something will happen and I won't be able to call in an emergency call for my son. What if he gets sick?" When I told her that Catholic Charities would pay the $40 to keep her phone on another month, the young woman broke down in tears. I knew that it was important that staff have a way to reach this mother and child. I knew that it would take several calls to convince relatives to provide temporary shelter.