'We’re All Homeless': A meditation by Bishop Marray

February 2, 2014

[Episcopal Diocese of Alabama] Last night, along with Bishop Kee, Peggy Turner, and Jan Cook, I spent the night in the office at Carpenter House marooned by the snow blizzard of 2014.  We’re among hundreds of others who spent the night in their respective offices.

SnowboundEach of us at the office had attempted to make our way home sometime earlier in the day, but had to return to the office where it was safer.  The gravity of this treacherous weather was too overwhelming for lesser mortals like us to navigate.

As I bedded down in my office, I thought of all those who were on the road caught in the traffic and prayed that they found a safe place to spend the night.  I thought of the parents who will spend the night away from their children still in schools across the state.  This night they would not be able to tuck them in bed, read the customary bedtime story, feed and kiss them goodnight, and I said a prayer.  I thought about those like us camping out in their offices, hotel lobbies, super market and pharmacy floors, and in auditoriums, churches, schools, hospitals and I said a prayer.  I thought about the dedicated emergency response personnel, police, and other officials working around the clock to protect and serve, and I offered a prayer.  I even spared a prayer for the meteorologists who got it terribly wrong, but how often don’t they usually get it right.

I thought about the animals living in the outdoors and hoped they found safe haven and said a prayer for them.  I thought of those on medication who won’t necessarily have it on hand and hope that my prayer would uphold them for this time of emergency. And in the event of overlooking one category I offered a prayer for everything in between.

However, strangely enough, I didn’t, as I generally do, say a prayer for the homeless.  For this weather has rendered all of us ‘homeless’. What a way for Mother Nature to bring smack center into our lives the reality of our fellow sisters and brothers of lesser means and resources who spend their lifetime I-65 Snowboundshuffling from one warming center to the next.  Actually, I thought of how better off they might be tonight, how more organized they might be to tackle this weather phenomenon from years of experience dealing with this phenomenon.  They have the ‘rhythm to deal with it which most of us don’t possess. We who generally spend the night in the comfort of our homes don’t necessarily have this device in our life’s survival kit. Unlike them we are probably at this time more stricken by anxiety, fear and gross apprehension, and are paralyzed for a response.

I thank God for Leslie and her staff at Wall Street Deli, Harbert Plaza, for opening up to serve soup and sandwiches last night and hot breakfast today.  We are grateful for their hospitality and kindness.  I watch strangers become friends at the Food Court; and wondered how often we haven’t witnessed solidarity in the midst of chaos!  The resilience of the human Spirit never ceases to amaze and it’s doing so again.

As I reflect on all of this, I’m swept over by a tidal wave of emotional gratitude to our Heavenly Father.  Jesus reminds us, “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. . . and I go and prepare a place for you. . . .”(John 14:2)  I smile in the face of all that surrounds us that in our Father’s presence no one is ‘homeless’ and no storm despite it ferocity and unpredictability has the power to paralyze or diminish, and I say a prayer of immense gratitude for his love that knows no limit and that’s eternal.

I began the day, as is my customary discipline, with the Daily Office.  This time I used the office from the Celtic Daily Prayer.  Listen to how the office ends:

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever He may send you.

May He guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm.

May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you.

May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.

I pray for the safety of all, reconnecting of parents and children, spouses with each other and of love ones.  I pray for safer roadways and for patience and forbearance among all during this critical time and unprecedented ordeal, and tolerance among our beloved people, and of course, for early return to life as normal, but yet life that will never be the same again.  The pain of the moment becomes memories of tomorrow.

Yes!  We’re all “homeless” and for that I thank God whose eternal home awaits our coming.

“O God, who has taught us that in quietness and confidence shall be our strength: By the might of your Spirit lift us, we pray, to your presence, where we may be still and know that you are indeed God; though Jesus Christ we pray.” Amen

“O God in the heavens that surround us, who has promised us all things necessary to sustain our lives: Be with us in this time of extreme winter weather so that our needs might be met and that more moderate weather restored. Give us patience to endure a discomforting time and may the dangers pass by us soon with a balance in all nature restored. This we pray in your holy name.” Amen

Santosh Marray
Assistant Bishop of Alabama