I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to Your statutes. Psalm 119:59
So here I sit, in front of a wood stove full of cold ashes, the clock ticking in the background. A quiet slightly overcast day awaits me for my last day in Denver, as I sort my thoughts through an Imago Dei devotional passed on by my sister: Meditations for Spiritual Direction. Because this is a pausing moment. Where do I hear God’s voice as I head into the next decade of life? My sort of awkward attempt at a sabbatical is drawing to an end, and then what?
In a recent interview for Regent College, Gordon T. Smith recommends six questions that we should ask ourselves before we begin a process of discernment, the first of which is: What on earth is God doing? In Smith’s words, we need to remember that “the Creator and Redeemer of all things is always at work in our world, and in history.” And history right now is the age of refugees. Well actually, history is full of refugees, like the Israelites were sojourners. And Joseph and Mary and Baby Jesus. And this morning I whipped through Gary Nabhan’s Songbirds, Truffles, and Wolves, the tale of a pilgrimage to Assisi by the Tucson Native Seed Search guru who actually built a fishpond on Rancho La Argentina, um, a long time ago. And most interesting of all to me was his knowledge of seeds and plants, and how when the Italians brought over maize from the New World they did not include preparation details like soaking in lime juice and adding ash, so all of that corn polenta that the hungry peasants used to supplement their winter crops of wheat and barley was missing essential nutrients so the regions in Italy where they were most dependent on maize suffered from an epidemic called pellagra, a severe nutritional deficiency that resulted in delusions and hallucinations. Which explains a little bit as to why so many hungry Italians made their way to the Denver area to replace striking coal miners. Even though during the early 1920’s, the Ku Klux Klan possessed considerable political clout and targeted immigrants, African Americans, and Roman Catholics through intimidation and violence. The Klan reached the peak of its influence in Colorado in 1924, with the election of Klansman Clarence Morely as the state’s governor. And we are going to revisit the Mother Cabrini Shrine high up in the hills where she first built Queen of Heaven Orphanage for little Italian girls from the slums of Denver and whose calling was to bring Christ’s love to the world.
A full circle. Nothing new under the sun.
And clearly and closely the LORD God is at work just down the street at Doolen Middle School, with its influx of refugee speaking 58 languages mingled with the neighborhood kids from broken down bungalows and trailer parks. And He has called committed skilled leaders to form a team of renewal and fresh passion for student growth. And I suspect that I could muster up an invitation of some sort or another to join in the calling of bringing Christ’s love to the world. And sure a bunch of me wants to stay in Italy and welcome Syrian refugees or to rebuild huts in Nepal, but really and truly He has brought His beloved children to be welcomed right here by me.
And maybe that is what on earth God is doing.