Walking on my way to church last Sunday I found a “Private Jet Lifestyle” magazine tucked into a fence, discarded or lost and waiting for someone to pick it up. It was a special edition of the top 100 suites from around the world, some of which started at $40 000 a night. It was full of beautifully groomed and perfectly manicured men, women and lives, beside pages and pages of ads for watches and jewellery without price tags. If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.
As I neared church and was about to enter, a homeless man with blood on his teeth and cracked lips stopped me and smilingly asked me for some money, “I’m so hungry. I need something to eat.” And who am I to say no to a hungry man, especially one in front of my church? I invited him to come inside and assured him that we would be able to find something for him to eat in the kitchen. As I was telling him this, with India beside me holding my hand, an elderly man who also attends my church came blustering up to us and aggressively told the homeless man to go away and that he could not stand on our church steps. I tucked my chin down into my collar in embarrassment and went inside. As I was hanging up our coats the elderly man came up behind me and complained about, “Perfectly able-bodied men not working and expecting handouts.”
And I had a million things to say to such sinful stupidity, but said nothing at all.
I flipped through the jet set magazine before bed last night and I had to put it down. I couldn’t make it through to the end of the best 100 suites. The people for whom these magazines are printed live a life so foreign to me that I might as well be named
“Thank you,” and “Good bye,” was all I could manage to say.
We lit the Peace candle in church this Sunday for advent. In preparation of celebrating God made flesh we are to spend this week thinking of peace, and it seems to me as if once again God has asked the impossible of his people. And yet it is what he has asked, and what he has promised to give.
Today is Wednesday. I have three more days of peace to go. The snow is coming down hard outside, but here on the inside the candles are lit, the furnace is blowing and India is singing and making paper dolls of Jesus and Mary and Joseph. We are as snug as two girls can be. I wonder where Casper will spend this cold night, and if the original owner of the magazine I found will be dropping $40 000 somewhere with lovely European tile work and private gardens, and if either of them have any peace, or what they think of Jesus and advent wreaths. My own heart goes out a wandering for peace this week, this season, always. What I know of peace is that it comes and goes, that it involves following stars instead of maps, and that homeless or home safe peace is all gift.