Brokenness and the Power of an Embrace

An Encounter

Normally, after a school day I like to see the students out of the school and make sure they connect with their parents well, so they get how safely.  Recently, one day after school a woman from a local house, which is known as a place of drinkers, came up to me.  She was drunk.  She was short.  She was slender.  She had red and leathery skin.  Her words spoken to me were rough to understand, but they were filled with sadness.  Her eyes were clear and deep.  She uttered to me “Father, I need a hug.”  Mind you, I always wear my Carmelite habit when I do ministry.  Before I could respond she wrapped her arms around me.  She smelled terrible.  Her hair was filthy.  I was taken aback and repulsed at first.  Yet, seeing her eyes and sensing the need to be seen within them, I released my disgust and leaned into the hug.  The exchange took a few seconds, but felt like minutes.  She whispered to me, “Father, Thank you, I’m just ya, *sniff*…… Thank you.”  She shook her head at me and acknowledged me and walked away to that house I mentioned early.

To Be Seen

I believe this woman went back to drinking after this encounter.  Admitting that reality pains my heart greatly, but that is the reality.  Yet, for a moment, only if it be a second, she wanted to be seen by another.  Are we any better?  How often does the desire to be seen and acknowledge drive our actions?  I feel in general that there is a fear and dread that whispers to us about the vastness and shallowness of the reality around us, and the meaninglessness of our place in it.  That fear and dread feeds a sense of nothingness of existence, which is a modern plague that consumes all it touches.  I believe that this whispering presence of fear and nothingness that seeks to chew away at our minds and hearts, is telling us lies, but those lies do impact us none the less.  The drive to be seen and acknowledge, among such a whisper of despair, points to the need for the human heart for love.

To Be Loved

“Jesus looked at him and loved him […].”  Mark 10: 21a

The above verse points to the look of Jesus upon the rich young man.  Jesus looked upon him with love.   The rich young man brought all his attachments and the burdens that comes from these whisper presence of despair. However, even among that despair Jesus still looked upon him with love.  Those eyes of love that Jesus offered that man, He continues to offer us in our states here and now!  Jesus, is always offering us transformation, if we are willing to say yes to his invitation.

Jesus sees you and loves you my brothers and sisters, because of who you are not for what you do.  I hope your eyes can meet His, so that His love may fill your heart.  I pray that, through His gaze, our eyes may become like Jesus!

4 thoughts on “Brokenness and the Power of an Embrace

  1. This is beautiful Father. When people see you they see not only a priest but Jesus and unconditional love. It’s a blessing I think to be that person in the world.

  2. This story reminded me of when St. Francis was repulsed by the lepers, but then in time he was able to touch and even wash their wounds! Amen!

  3. I have received a huge from two different priest in my adult life, both times were after confession. To receive those hugs and feel Jesus’ love coming through them…It’s not something I can really put into words, but I walked away knowing that I wasn’t alone and that my life is worth more than I realize. We are all worth it, because of God’s love for us. After receiving those hugs from those priests helped me to understand that it is worth persevering in my struggles, all because I saw the love of God through them. God bless you father and all priests throughout this world and I pray God sends us more shepherds like you.

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