The Pope and Giving

comtempmother Watching Pope Francis being greeted by thousands of people and listening to a few of his talks, has stirred up a few memories. In his speech before Congress he mentioned Dorothy Day. She was a radical Catholic who created non-church supported soup kitchens and shelters for the poor, called the Catholic Worker. Along with her devotion to the disenfranchised and castaways of society, she was also a passionate protester, speaking out against, war and many political policies and practices. Years ago, I lived and worked at the Catholic Worker Tivoli farm. (It is a long and zany story of how I came to be there and will share on another blog post. I also wrote about this in my book The Miracle Workers Handbook.) Tivoli was a working farm that supplied the soup kitchens with food grown on the farm in the summer months. I often went to the New York City shelters during the summer to drop off fresh vegetables. This is where I met Dorothy. Even in her eighties, she lived in the homeless women’s shelter and ate many of her meals in the dining room among the destitute women. In those days I was devoted to helping and serving the poorest of the poor. Many of the long term aged homeless men and women who had been living in the streets of the city for years, went to the Tivoli farm in upstate New York to live out their remaining time in peace and safety. I loved the people and the work at the farm. Yet, it was not always easy. Most of the people living there were physically, mentally and emotionally challenged and ill. There were several other volunteers like myself, but most of the people who lived there were not able to work. I eventually moved to the San Jose, Ca. Catholic Worker to work at the inner city soup kitchen and homeless shelter there. During my years of volunteer service, I was psychic and often saw and communicated with those on the other side. Yet, I had no interest or intention of becoming a professional psychic. I rarely talked about my intuitive sensitivities and gifts and instead focused on the practical day to day needs of people living on the streets. I thought this was my purpose. But, as it usually goes, there was a different plan for my life. Although I had no strong interest in being Catholic, I loved reading books about the saints, especially women saints. Many lived incredible lives, complete with visions and extraordinary and supernatural gifts. Although I had no aspirations or illusions that I had much in common with the saints, what I read helped to put into a better context what I was experiencing. I realized that psychic and intuitive communication could be a way that the divine speaks to us and though us. Sharing love and guidance from the spirit realm, I slowly realized, might also be an important form of service. As my psychic ability took on a life force of its own, I made peace with this gift and realized that perhaps, this was my calling. Although providing for the poor, sick and disenfranchised in tangible ways is an essential and blessed path, there are many ways to give and serve. Loneliness, grief, confusion and depression and anxiety have their own suffering. No one really knows the depths of despair that another may be going through or the light and love that is housed within their spirit. Maybe only a higher spiritual presence and power knows who we really are. Joy comes through heartfelt giving and love can be expressed in limitless ways.