Time with This Child Here . . .

Thank you, Bob Gamble, for turning our attention to the situation of children who live on and under the streets of Odessa, Ukraine.
Our time with Bob involved a lot of looking at images. Maybe that is not surprising, coming from a photographer. But the images were surprising, these faces of individuals, confronting us with the timeless question with which one human being confronts another — who is my neighbor? And the places these children live: hard to enter, and evidently even harder to leave, even for places that offer more order, more care, more of a future.
Our time with Bob involved lots of questions, and challenges. How does a person hear their call — this word about which we hear so much, and about which we often have so much uncertainty? Perhaps — as Bob seemed to suggest — it comes by following up possibilities, suggestions, opportunities, that don’t seem to be part of any bigger plan . . . until things start to fit together, and things start to happen. Bob emphasized on Friday afternoon that a call might not mean “parish ministry.” “There is a world of opportunity for people who are driven by their faith to make a difference in the world.”
Friday night’s worship, rescheduled from Thursday, happened — that might have been something of a miracle in and of itself. And it had its own raw and simple beauty. We entered Hundley Hall through a pile of trash (artfully constructed by Jorge Gonzalez) — to remind us of what these children live with daily. We sang to Johanna Bos’s recorder accompaniment, and listened to musical meditation (“I’m Waiting on an Angel,” by Ben Harper, performed by Jorge), saw more images, were led by Bob to reflect on the meaning of “the word made flesh” — which words of ours have been, are being, made flesh? Are they, have they been, graceful words, true words?
We heard some advice, and not the usual preacherly advice. “Your past is connected to your future in ways you can’t even imagine.” Your past as the ground out of which God is making the human you are becoming. “It makes a difference when you send a person.” It was true for Jesus. It’s still true, in all the places where people are called to meet other people and be good news for them. “You make decisions every day. Don’t collect a lot of stuff; collect experiences.” “When you’re where you need to be, things fit together.”
It’s clear Bob Gamble is where he needs to be, and that the children of Odessa, Ukraine benefit from that. May many more of us find the places where we need to be, and bring words to be made flesh in those places!

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