Although my blogging fast was successful, I had a mostly busy, ambiguous, unholy Lent. I entered the season with every intention to enter the desert in order to conduct a “fearless moral inventory” and I ended the season relieved that I wasn’t slated to preach the resurrection. I don’t know quite what to make of that.
Fortunately, early last week I received the proclamation I was so hesitant to offer.
Shortly after arriving at my satellite office (also known as the Beverly Public Library) I ran into Jandelle*, an enthusiastic, uber-intelligent young adult who had attended the Beverly Bootstraps Homework Helpers Club I helped sponsor years ago. Although Janelle has the intellect and intrinsic dignity of Michelle Obama, she hails from a challenging family background and a neighborhood that most would consider less than ideal. Her background, along with the fact that I had witnessed a brutish twenty-something bullying her in a parking lot a couple of years ago, left me worried that she would fail to fulfill her potential.
So it was with a little hesitancy that I asked Jandelle what college she was planning on attending next fall.
Immediately she smiled and said: “I’ve already received acceptance letters from UMass Amherest, BU, BC and St. Mary’s, but my first choice is Columbia and I should be hearing back from them within the week.”
Somehow I avoided tears as I congratulated Jandelle and wished her good luck. Then, as quickly as she appeared, she was gone.
When Jesus proclaims a blessing on the poor for theirs is the Kingdom of God, I believe him. For that reason among others I consider it a privilege to empower, and be empowered by, people throughout my workday.
However, in the darker moments, working in social services feels an awful lot like servicing poverty and one is tempted to wonder if all of the hours, dollars and prayers contributed is going to do a damn bit of good.
For that reason, I treasure moments of ordinary resurrection like these. Jandelle’s story serves as a powerful reminder that God is always in the business of bringing life out of death and if I had been slated to proclaim the resurrection yesterday morning her story would have been my text.
* Not her real name.