After a busy two days, I took time tonight to write.
The opportunity presented itself for me to reflect by sitting outside a local establishment on a warm Chicago night.
As soon as I sat down with a refreshment in hand, staring beyond the short and not so distant divider was an older gentleman.
Limited to a walker, he held a used 7-11 cup to collect necessary funds. He greeted me with a stare that was harmless yet striking.
As I attempted to write about God, my soul could not ignore his presence because God was in my midst.
We spoke about his life and he shared the death of his wife, his two strokes, and his hope to raise $22.00 so he can stay at a local hotel for the night.
We shared a drink until he gave me a look that told me to leave. There was a person on the corner that was agitated. He moved closer and my new friend (I regret that I did not get his name) urged me with a stare and a nudge to leave.
He thanked me for the drink, I promised prayers, and my life returned to comfort as his returned to survival.
For greater context, I spent the past two days surrounded by caring, smart, inspirational, and loving leaders in higher education across the three Vincentian Universities ( DePaul, Niagara, and St. John’s). During this time we spoke of many challenges and themes for our institutions.
At the heart of the Vincentian (founded by St Vincent de Paul in the 17th century) and the Catholic (founded by Jesus of Nazareth) identities of our schools and of my own personal identity is a love for the poor (poverty can take many forms: poor in health, income, mental health, acceptance, love, etc.)
It was appropriate and necessary that as this academic and spiritual exercise came to an end that God would speak to me as God spoke to St. Vincent, and the countless others who identify as Vincentian….and this was through the most vulnerable and those on the margins.
As I learn more about God, I realize that God speaks to us in different ways. As I sat down to write, God reminded me of why I write. It is all for God, and God’s creation, especially those that society moves to the peripheries.
It is for those who are not loved, those who are searching, those who are feeling (or need us (as God’s instrument) to give them) a nudge to be and to do something more.
After almost 20 hours over two days of discussion, God met me as God often meets us, reminding me that all I do must be for those most in need, and that who I am is an instrument of God’s unconditional love and unlimited peace.