Blessed are the Available

Mar 8, 2008

On a regular Sunday morning, a small troupe of kids from the neighborhood scurried from behind me and scrambled into the sanctuary to claim their seats at the small community church we attend. Not that agility was necessary, for no one would put up a fight for their chosen locale, rows one and two, center aisle. As I followed behind them I looked up to scan the sanctuary and saw our most dependable Kids Club volunteer making a bee-line straight for me. He looked concerned and I was concerned about the sort of confrontation I would be facing from this down to business, Georgetown educated lawyer who can be somewhat intimidating. Before I could even greet him with a “Good Morning!” he almost blurted out, “It’s Sara and Cesar, isn’t it?” I responded, “What are you talking about?” He responded a bit more forcefully, “The email! The email you sent. It’s them, I know it is.” In my brain, I quickly thumbed through the files of emails I had sent that week and remembered sending an email to a small group of people regarding some children in the neighborhood who were being evicted from their home. We found out this information when Emily came across the mother looking through the bushes scouting out a spot to spend the night with her 10 and 2 year old boys. Not knowing what to do myself, I reached out for help to some trusted friends. I made the connection and looked at the compassion in his eyes that was mixed with a bit of anger and frustration but was physically expressed with a tender redness and a pool of wetness that was beginning to gather above the bottom lid of his eye. His care and concern cut deep into my soul and in that moment I felt a solidarity that reawakened all the emotion I felt when I sent the email a few days prior. I shook my head slowly back and forth with a solemn look on my face and responded, “No, it’s not them. It’s Patrick and Jorge.” However, this did not relieve the anguish for he cared about those two just as much. One of them attended our church every Sunday and happened to be within my gaze just over the should of the kind hearted volunteer. In what was almost a burst of anger, emotion which I had seldom seen, he responded, “Isn’t there anyone else down there? Aren’t there some middle class families down in the Arlandria neighborhood who can take care of this? Aren’t there more people who can help? This is too much. Our church doesn’t have the resources to do it all.” In spite of the difficult situation, I smiled a bit inside and felt a new sense of camaraderie, knowing that he now understood what I had been feeling for months. These people were no longer sad stories and numbers that existed somewhere out there but they were people, faces, friends, beings created in the image of God who we could no longer push aside, forget about and chalk up as one more difficult situation. Relationship prevents us from inaction. We both knew that something had to be done or we’d both be losing sleep over it.

Isn’t that exactly what we all want to ask? Aren’t there more people who can do this? Aren’t there others who have the time? Aren’t there others who have the resources? Aren’t there more people who can take care of this? The burden is too heavy. The workers are too few. The rub is that when we relegate the responsibility to someone else, we miss out on the blessing. It is a risk we take when we get involved with the least of these. Relationships are harder than an arms length interaction but they certainly offer much more reward and commitment. We become involved with hardships we never knew existed and are sometimes faced with an ugliness in our own hearts. However, the gift comes when we finally recognize that giving of ourselves is exactly what we needed all along, lest we forget where we have come from and that everything we have is a gift from God (time, talents, and treasure) to be shared and stewarded well.

We are a community of people “learning together to love our neighbors as ourselves” in a Latino neighborhood in Alexandria, Virginia.

As a faith-based Christian non-profit with a small staff and over 100 volunteers, we serve alongside more than 100 families and their children (1st-12th grades) each week through our community programs.

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Our relational network of volunteers and donors reflects a diverse group of individuals from all over the Washington, D.C. metro area. As a non-profit, we rely on the community for assisting program directors on-site, being mentors, supplying the needs of our food pantry, and everything in between. Each member of our Casa community holds a unique gift, whether time, talent or treasure.