When St. Thomas Aquinas in Ames rebuilt the student center and church, there was a large wall in the gathering space that needed art. Finally, the committee asked Jo Myers-Walker, an artist-parishioner, to do something. She conceived of a story wall with several arrangements of clay figures which would express the life of the parish.
One day I stopped by Jo’s workshop and we talked about the Good Samaritan story which was to be one of the scenes. Since I was the staff person facilitating charity, justice and peace ministries in the parish, I think she wanted to put me in the role of the Good Samaritan.
I told her, however, that my experience, especially in Latin America (up to that point mostly in El Salvador), had been full of experiences in which the poor had been the Good Samaritan for me. They are the outcasts who see the person in need, feel compassion, and draw near.
They, often without realizing it, have healed my wounds – especially of my heart and spirit.
And so, when the wall was unveiled, I marveled at the Good Samaritan, who is Latin American, caring for a person who looks a lot like me. (I actually think he look more like my dad than me.)
This healing by the outcast happens to me even now. How often a kind word has brightened my spirits. How casually they speak of God in a way that opens my heart to God.
And how often they have come to the rescue when my car has broken down.
This week, on the way to a workshop about 15 minutes from Dulce Nombre, my brakes went out. I was able safely to get the pickup to a mechanic in Dulce Nombre who changed the brake pad.
I was going to be late for the meeting, if I got there at all. But Moisés came to the rescue. In his old pickup he came and got me and then brought me back to the mechanic.
It’s not the first time and probably won’t be the last.
I wonder why I’ve experienced such compassion from people with so little.
It might be partly due to being a lay missionary, who has worked in this parish almost six years.
But I wonder if there is something deeper. Perhaps some of those who have suffered isolation and marginalization have let these experiences open up reserves of compassion in the depth of their souls.
Suffering can make people bitter and isolate them even more. But at times suffering is redemptive and opens up the love that is at the base of our beings, that Love who made us, in the image of that Love who is God.
May we let our experiences of suffering – and being helped by the Good Samaritans of the world – open us to be good Samaritans.
I wrote this entry Saturday morning before going out to a parish zone meeting in El Zapote de Santa Rosa, planning to post it on Sunday morning.
As I left the meeting with 7 people in the pickup, people ran to the truck asking if we could take a woman to the hospital in Santa Rosa – 90 minutes away. Of course.
She had been washing clothes near a well and her husband came and had attacked her with a machete.
Three friends went with her – holding her in the back of the truck.
Several of us tried to contact the police to come and arrest the man. We’ll se if anything happened.
We got to the hospital and she was taking immediately into the emergency room. As they lifted her out of the truck, I noted that her lower arm was cut to the bone and almost hanging off.
But what also troubled me was the look of terror on the faces of two little kids, probably her kids, as we waited to leave. What trauma.
I talked with one person in El Zapote who had called me asking about her. I told him to try to mobilize the faith community to help her family.
I’ll continue to try tonight to try to call people to make sure there are people to support her and her family.
Please pray for her.