Poverty dolls: nearly everyone loves the idea of personally handing a plate of food to a hungry, homeless, child: I handed countless plates of food to hungry children over the course of my years in a Soup Kitchen! And oh, the heart then thinks that it could expand forever into Love without Limits! But then, turning around, there is a tall black man with gold teeth and bracelets, a very cool hat, and didn't I pass him this morning on my way into the Kitchen dealing drugs on the corner: didn't I hear him telling two homeless men to carry what he was going to hand them around the corner for a pick-up: didn't I keep walking without seeing or hearing, and here he was, with his free plate of food...
Right here is the choice: poverty dolls or a step further out on the limb of a vision that exclaims "every choice is eternal". Now what the hell does that mean? And suddenly, there is a yell for help from the next room: an old man is beating someone with his wooden cane while a new volunteer is frantically pleading for the phone number of the ambulance: someone overdosed in the women's restroom... what could possibly be eternal about that moment?
Right about then, a police officer walks in the door and pulls me aside. He says that on Monday there will be a sweep of the street: everything must go: everyone will be hauled off if they don't comply. He says to just pile their belongings in the backyard for a day or two until other business gets everyone's attention... just then the ambulance arrives and the team pushes on in and down the hallway (they've been here before)...
The choices for a Soup Kitchen and Shelter might be different from a straight-up Catholic Worker House, which might be different still from a traditional service directed non-profit: each and all of which might seemingly have little to do with your choices... but then again... perhaps they are all really the very same choice? Don't all of our choices basically boil down to our decisions as to the limits we put upon our (virtually unexplored) capacity to love?
Who or what are the "poverty dolls" of your individual life, of your Catholic Worker House, of your intentional community, of your non-profit, of your business, of your religion, of your politics: of the sum total of your life and relationships? While not ignoring the grace and beauty of our "poverty dolls", might we be ready to begin an exploration into that which just might be on the other side of the limitations we have placed upon our hearts? True: it
could be risky: but all you need do for right now is plan on returning when you can to read the additions to the "Poverty Dolls" page... Who knows what will show up? (I don't, and I'm going to be writing it... but it just might be worth your time and consideration...)
Robert Daniel Smith was privileged to serve the homeless and marginalized for 30 years in Salinas, California. Together with his wife, Michelle, they founded an intentional community called the 'Companions of the Way', also in Salinas. Robert and Michelle are community organizers, Catholic Worker renegades, sacred activists, writers, poets, artists, Divine Mother devotees, and practitioners of Kriya Yoga as taught by Rev. Ellen Grace O'Brian of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment. Michelle is also a Montessori public school teacher.