Saturday, August 23, 2014

God at the margins

I confess, I always put off going because I know it's not a quick drop off or visit. But Wednesday morning for some reason, Spirit let me know to go.

Ostensibly, I was dropping off donated clothes (thanks to a wonderful and thoughtful friend), but needed to speak to Jasmine. Her partner answered the door, grateful for the sporty clothing with tangling tags. "What would we do without you, Miss Cathy?" he said. "Hey, they're not from me; I'm just delivering them."

"Jasmine's awake if you want to see her." I did. He hustled off to get her an iced mocha from McDonald's, her favorite

Curled in her bed, as I often find her, her spirit brightened and lightened the more we talked. Her eyes beamed, her skin glistened, her hair shone and her once-limp arms wildly gestured. This is Jasmine's refuge I have come to learn. At the foot of her bed, at one point, I felt shivers up and down my body, signaling sacred Truth in what she was telling me.

On the surface she looks the farthest place from sacred you could imagine: a mother of five who's battled leukemia since she was 8, had plates installed in her head, was violently attacked at 15, never worked and lives on minimal assistance. She's easy to write off.

Probably the reason I didn't was because I met her kids first. The oldest is a sweetheart, gentle, well-mannered and a straight-A student. Next in line is a dashing, also smart, clone of his father packaged with some learning issues. Third down is a charmer. Next, the only girl, rightly a bit spoiled, and, lastly, the most sensitive, according to Jasmine. Beautiful, intelligent kids whom their mother loves fiercely. Their dad works hard as chief caregiver and acknowledged he has no familial role models, which caused him to leave home at 15.

The first time I met Jasmine was because her oldest was enrolled in Artsy Fartsy Saturdays, the non-profit arts exploration for at-risk local kids I founded in my neighborhood. I was getting something signed and we had our first long talk. I saw that same streak that gave me a shiver this week. As if God were speaking directly through her. She was saying her kids really needed a computer. It took me a year, but with substantial help from my faith community and neighbors, we got them one and all of the accouterments.

She reminds me of where wise theologian and writer Henri Nouwen says he found God: at the margins.

Jasmine is grieving at the death of two sisters to cancer this summer. She reached over and grabbed the lockbox she keeps by her bed, opened it with her extraordinary lanyard of multiple keys and handed me the two obituaries. "I really wanted you to be there. I sent my kids down a few times, but they couldn't get anyone to answer." How could I tell her we were enjoying Europe for two weeks?

I would have gone in a heartbeat had I been home. Feeling as if I missed an important opportunity with her, I managed to deliver news of the real reason I'd stopped by: that a plethora of generous Facebook friends was sending checks to cover another year of Internet.

"I tell you, you really are my angel," she responded. How could I be her angel, I thought, I wasn't even here when her sisters died.

"My grandma knows that you are," she confessed, then told me how psychic her almost 100-year old grandmother is. "I have those abilities, too," she said. "I am very open to things." That's when I got the chills because I recognized it as fact.

"You're not open to everything are you?" I asked. "Oh no, not to evil or dark things. Though I have sure felt some of that in this house."

"Have you ever done a blessing or cleansing?" I wondered. "Yes with oils my grandmother recommended." Clearly this women knows what she is doing.

Many people don't agree. She takes countless drugs for her illnesses, with is primarily why she keeps a locked box. "Don't want my kids getting into them," she says in a very motherly tone.

Many would discount her statement that one of her sister hasn't crossed over yet because she's guarding the very-premature granddaughter born just after her visitation, which sent the mother into very early labor. Somehow I know that she knows.

She rolls up her pants leg and exposes the neat line of a long cut on her shin. "Got another when I fell in the bathtub," Jasmine confesses. "Maybe you should't take that walk I recommended earlier for clearing your head." We both laugh. I wonder aloud if some of her meds cause muscle weakness. "No, I was just born a klutz," she says.

I am profoundly grateful that this visit she doesn't tell me how ignorant she is. Instead and, much to my delight, she delves back into her metal sanctum and produces a paper with her psychiatrist's signature. "He thinks I am ready to take care of my own financial affairs."

Throughout our hour visit, I run through all of the things that I can't do for her. It overwhelms me, an inkling of how she must feel. Then I recognize I am doing exactly as Spirit wishes. Listening to Jasmine and Spirit.

• Where have I found God in the margins?
• What have these experiences been like?
• What persons struggling inspire me?
• How am I inspired to action?
• How do I obey Spirit?

tucked into fetal

I was afraid
of disturbing her

truthful, more so that
she would disturb me

with her illnesses,
struggles and BIG
problems that
overwhelm me

I can't possibly
fix them all

then I get a

that's not my

why do I
feel I have to
play God?

all God asks
is that I listen

when I do,
I see a very bright
spirit uncurl from
her bed and she
teaches me

Listen to this post:

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