There are times I wish Kay and I would have kept the newsprint that hung on the wall in her office in early 1998 out of which came forth our name, Faithful Fools Street Ministry, and our mission statement, (which S Jan published in her previous blog.)
After walking the streets of the Tenderloin each day and sharing stories of what brought us to this place and time, we'd head back up the hill to Kay's office at the Unitarian Universalist Church and make notes on newsprint of the people, places, poems, books, beliefs, observations and longings that had come to us as we walked and talked, and encountered people throughout the day. In a magical sort of way our name and our mission statement formed itself on the newspring.
We set out as a Unitarian Universalist Minister and a Catholic Franciscan Sister aspiring to be Faithful Fools. We had both come to a place in our lives where we longed to be faithful to a way of being and seeing in the world. Our many and varied experiences in life led us to one, simple truth - we are all human. No amount of wealth or education, nor any particulr place or religion protects us from suffering or assures us of joy. We have an unabashed belief that everyone has the potential to change and be changed and the work is for a lifetime.
Faithfulness is required for us to accompany a person through deep-seated and unimaginable pain. The patience and compassion we need must be in direct proportion to the amount we allot to ourselves through a lifetime of failed attempts to change our own unhealthy behaviors and ignorant ways of thinking.
To be faithful requires that I walk with a mirror ever before me and practice constant reflection. When judgments or frustrations arise I often say to myself, "you who have never sinned throw the first stone." I've discovered over time that it ultimately takes less energy to put down the stones than to repeatedly hurl them. It is a greater gift to someone to patiently stand still and be a witness rather than to throw stones toward something or someone I ultimately know little about.
Almost 13 years of walking the streets with many Faithful Fools may not have changed the world, but lives have been changed, including my own. Faithfulness has meant never giving up on anyone or anything. If I were to name one gift I have received it is that my mind and heart have been enlarged, and my love has increased so as to have room for the vastness of human experience, and for this I am grateful.
(reprinted from Fools Fables, Annual Edition 2010-2011 with permission)
Written by Sister Jan Kilian, this blog will give an understanding of what it’s like to be Franciscan. Living out the spirit of Saint Francis, we see all God’s creation as brother and sister. We, Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, are committed to building relationships and community, ministering wherever there is greatest need, promoting justice and healing Mother Earth’s wounds. My writings will give a glimpse of the compassion, spirituality, interconnectedness and goodness of living Franciscan.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
I just read the latest edition of Fools Fables published by our friends, Faithful Fools. I was very moved to read the many reflections on faithfulness. Coming from them, this quality has depth and significance beyond the ordinary. Sister Carmen and Rev. Kay have been walking soul to soul with men and women of the tenderloin since 1998, at least. Sister Susan has been with them many years. Carmen reminded us of their mission statement:
We are called to a ministry of presence that
acknowledges each human's incredible worth.
Aware of our judgements, we seek to meet people where they are
through the arts, education, advocacy and accompaniment.
We participate in shattering the myths about those living in
poverty, seeing the light, courage, intelligence, strength and
creativity of the people we encounter.
We discover on the streets our common humanity,
through which celebration, community and healing occur.
For more about these folks, see http://www.faithfulfools.org/ Your spirit will be enriched.