I was reading a favorite weekly blog written by Jane Angha on her website www.ministryblueprints.com. In one part of the blog Jane wrote “I am moved now to do more because people need more. I need more. Pope Francis and our practical theologians today are challenging us to BE missionary disciples. It isn’t a reward at the end of a course or a certificate one receives after years of study. It is a way of life. It is choosing to be who you say you are each and every day. In the most ordinary ways.”
While reading that part of the blog my next-door neighbor came to mind. She is 90, has dementia, lives alone and loves having company. I visit with her a couple of times a week for a few hours. I listen while she shares stories of her childhood over and over. I feel like my time with her is me choosing to BE a missionary disciple.
Jane gave me permission to share the entire blog post with you (found below). I encourage you to take up the challenge she shares with us at the end of the post:
Lately in conversations with friends, ministry leaders and family the idea of Covid fatigue, brain fog and sort of a general malaise has come up. I think it’s a real thing that is emerging after stress, struggles, grieving and fear has lessened a bit. I’ve also been wondering what to do about it. What will heal us?
There isn’t any one answer of course, but the very first thing is to listen. Listen to our own hearts and souls naming some of the things that we have lost or have a great hunger for now. I have been asking those things in conversations too, not wanting to just rely on small talk but to ask better questions. It’s been beautiful, heartbreaking and sobering to listen.
A woman in line at Target was on her phone behind me today. She was trying to calm someone down and promised to be there as soon as she could. Not to panic – just wait. I put my things back in my cart and asked her to go ahead of me. We figured it out and she was getting her things checked out and bagged up. She turned to me and said, “Thank you, I needed a little help today. My sister lives with me and has early dementia. She fell and I need to get home.” I heard the words, but between them was so much more. Fear, worry, exhaustion, frustration too. All I could say was that I was so sorry, and I would say a prayer for them both today. She was putting her credit card in and turned to look at me. She said, “Thank you – you don’t even know me.” So, I said, “I know you are an incredible sister and are doing a beautiful thing. I hope everything is okay.”
I think in the past, when we all weren’t exhausted and, in a fog, tired and traumatized, I might not have said anything – just smiled or left it at letting her go ahead of me. But I am moved now to do more because people need more. I need more. Pope Francis and our practical theologians today are challenging us to BE missionary disciples. It isn’t a reward at the end of a course or a certificate one receives after years of study. It is a way of life. It is choosing to be who you say you are each and every day. In the most ordinary ways.
Missionary – means I go outside of myself where I am comfortable, private and a wee bit selfish. I meet others where they are and offer what I can. Our circles of influence have shrunk this year. But other pathways have opened. I have opportunities on a walk or a hike each day. I encounter people when I am getting groceries, filling up the gas tank or getting my hair cut. I have a big opportunity each day with my own family and friends and every platform for communication. Nothing should be stopping me, Not even my own Covid fatigue, fog, or weariness. That is where my community comes in. I am filled by the Word, prayer, sacrament, Bible study or my faith-filled friends. I am not alone.
Discipleship – means following Jesus in such a way that I am like him in how I notice others, listen to them, and respond in a way that is kind, generous and authentic. I choose to live in such a way that others might see Christ in me. I believe like Pope Francis, that we must be people of deep joy and hope – being a light for the world.
It isn’t easy of course. Especially now. But it matters and counts extra when we do it even as we are struggling, foggy and in stages of grief and loss. I made that counts extra up. But I think God knows our hearts and what it takes to live faithfully right now. And we are not alone.
I challenge you this week to do strike up a conversation that goes beyond the temperature and weather, beyond the obvious. Have eyes like Jesus – noticing more. Ears like Jesus- hearing what isn’t said. Then speak words as Jesus would – affirming, gentle, true, and loving.
I’ll keep you in my prayers today. Hoping that your burdens are light.