I am actually blogging this from Nazareth, from the guest room computer. I am in the midst of that fabulous week known to many as Companions in Mission when I get to spend the week serving the dear neighbor and spending time with my beloved Companions and my Sister Friends at the Congregation of St. Joseph.
Today was our first day of serving our "dear neighbor" in the mission fields of Kalamazoo Michigan. Two companions and I went to the Kalamazoo Gospel Mission to work today, fully expecting to feed the hungry and see the face of Jesus in the poor and hungry down-trodden folks in Kalamazoo. When we got toe the Gospel Mission, we were greeted warmly, and set to work...cleaning out huge refrigerators. "I need you to take everything out of here and detail the entire thing, both of them." Our guide instructed. She got us buckets of sanitizer/detergent, rags, and turned us loose on the fridges. These fridges are the size of the coolers that hold pop in convenience stores, and were full of dairy products and donated desserts.
So I start moving stuff around and pulling out shelves and cleaning up this fridge, and my mind starts to think,"What? Really? I'm cleaning a fridge? How is this serving the poor? How is this helping? I'm supposed to feed the poor! I'm supposed to see the face of Jesus in the poor and down-trodden! There are no poor folks in the fridge, only a ridiculous amount of sweet rolls! I'm totally cleaning a giant fridge!"
And then I heard the song start in my head..."when will our eyes meet..." I think it's Barry Manilow. "...when will I touch you...when will this strong yearning end?" Yep, it's Barry Manilow. I'm cleaning a fridge at the mission, and the soundtrack God has given me is Barry Manilow. "And when will I hold you....again?" The song kept going, over and over until I realized that God was trying to tell me something.
I need to clean my refrigerator.
Before I can help anyone else, I need to clean my refrigerator. I need to clean out the gunk that has spilled on my own shelves. I need to mop up the spoiled milk of my own hurt feelings and disappointments before I can serve anyone else any good and nutritious food. I need to empty my inner shelves full of sweet fluff with no nutritious value, and reorganize them into an orderly, clean, healthy state of mind, body and spirit.
Once I figured this out and started cleaning with a higher purpose, I started really listening to the words that Jesus sang to me (with Barry Manilow's voice). "When will our eyes meet? When can I touch you? When can this strong yearning end?" Does Jesus miss me? It's been awhile since I've really been attentive to Him in my life. I mean like totally present and aware of His love for me. Is he as anxious for me to get my fridge cleaned as I am to see His face in the people of Kalamazoo?
The last line draws my tears. "When will I hold you again?" I know Barry Manilow was writing this love song about another person, but when I was without a pulse, it was like being held and loved like a newborn baby. Loved and held and rocked by one who loved me perfectly and wholly. "When will I hold you again?"
Cleaning out the fridge with this new perspective was transforming! I started talking to the people who were working around me. Not because they were needy and I came to help them, but because I was needy, and trying to find love. Barry Manilow made me hunger for physical contact with Jesus, and as soon as I started looking around, I saw he was everywhere.
So, today was the day our eyes met! Today I touched you! This long yearning for you will NEVER end!
But when will I hold you....again......?