Thursday, September 15, 2005


Adjective. 1 : binding in law or conscience. 2 : relating to or enforcing an obligation. 3 : mandatory, required.

There's not much to tell. Almost two weeks ago, I showed up, was "oriented," and was sent to the Reliant Center. My job was to greet the evacuees being transferred from part of the Astrodome to this newly opened center. I was to lead them to the proper section of the shelter, pointing out all of the services available, and their locations. I did this for five hours or so, before getting tired and deciding to go home.

I really don't want to embellish or expound.


When the crowd of desperate, dripping evacuees first arrived across the street, my feelings were pretty clearly divided: one part pity, one part apprehension, one part distrust. I say this with shame. I felt bad for them, certainly. But I didn't trust them. My idea of such people was fueled by the TV news, of images of looting and violence. I was afraid that it would begin here.

I tried to suppress this thought, to stifle it, to kill it with Christian charity. I kept reading the parable of the sheep and goats, and kept telling myself that my reaction to the mass of needy people should be like Christ's. Christ would have viewed them with pure love and compassion, not distrust. My spirit accused me at every turn. My heart was heavy.

I went to the complex to volunteer, and everything changed. Talking to the families broken up because of the storm, I began seeing them as lonely, scared people. Not dangerous, not desperate. Just scared of having to depend on strangers in a strange city for their very life. All that the people I spoke to wanted was a chance to start over, to care for themselves and their own, to get jobs and become productive members of society again.

There are still some dangerous people among the mass that has fled Louisiana. But the vast majority of them just want to be able to live their lives peaceably. My eyes were opened to this, and I stopped being afraid.

I haven't really talked about them in detail, on this blog or elsewhere, since I volunteered that afternoon. Frankly, and I painfully admit this, I had grown tired of being sad for them. I'm weary of doing the little good I have. I had to stop watching the news. I'm tired of crying for others. I'm tired of weeping for their misfortune. I feel like I have nothing more to give, emotionally.

I confess this. This is all wrong. My attitude is all wrong. I'm becoming selfish again. I'm turning inward. Not because I don't want to help them, but because I don't want to hurt for them. How You must weep, El Roi. How great are Your tears. I have no more to shed. My soul is dried out and withering.

I'm typing this post out of duty. I owe them this. But I don't feel like I have anything to give them. I feel soul-poor as it is, just with the childish, tiny cares of my own spoiled, over-blessed life. I'm reaching the end of myself. My heart doesn't want to give of its own anymore.

From this point forward, any love or compassion I have left is purely and solely the work of the Spirit of God. Because I cannot produce it of myself.

[I beg you, Almighty Father, fill me with love and sacrifice, with pity and compassion that drives action, so that I may again be your hands and feet. Without your power and spirit, I am only a withering branch.]


You know, Sunday was 9/11. And my honest confession to you is, I didn't want to celebrate it. I didn't want to remember.

I've had enough of mourning. There is too much to mourn.

Yet, if I don't remember, I dishonor those who died. I betray the victims of that man-made tragedy. And however base and cheap my honor is, it cannot sink to that despicable level.

So go here. I don't have the strength of heart or mind to retell it.

I called this post obligatory. It is so, in the first definition's sense. Because my conscience cannot let me go without posting SOMETHING about these two events, and the people affected.

Some part of me is ashamed that the only reason I'm posting is to feel better about myself. But that's why I do most things. To quell the accusing voice in my head.


Ah, my dear and beloved friends. If you are looking for Christ, don't look to me today. I'm getting tangled up in my own corruption again.

I'm supposed to be sending out the Bible study class' weekly email this afternoon. It always includes the upcoming events for the class, as well as some words of spiritual encouragement.

I don't know if i can send it. I have nothing good to say. But of course, I will send it. Like so many things today, it's required of me.

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