Issue Date: October 6, 2006
By JAMES STEPHEN BEHRENS
I went home recently, to Covington, La. I had not been there since Hurricane Katrina tore through the area. There are reminders all over the place of the horror of those days. Almost every conversation I had with people soon touched upon the devastation of the hurricane.
One morning I said Mass at my moms place, a large assisted-living facility called Christwood. Before Mass, people were gathering in the small room. An elderly woman approached me and thanked me for being there. I asked where she was from and she said that she had lived in Chalmette and that her house and all she owned were destroyed. She started to cry and told me that it has been so painful not to feel at home and at peace. As wonderful as these people are, it is taking me so long to get my bearings, she said.
I started the prayers and what that woman said lingered in my mind all through the Mass. She sat there in front of me and the tears streamed down her face.
Christwood is a good place. The staff is wonderful. The care they give could not be better. There are some things, though, that human care cannot heal -- at least not right away. It takes time to get ones bearings in a new place and among new people, especially when the new place is the result of a painful and unplanned move. It is weeks later now, and I remember that woman who cried during Mass.
I hope she is more at peace, more at home.
I hope, too, that her faith gives her some comfort. That will be the case if she ponders the dislocation that must have been felt by Jesus and those who loved him. Something good was ripped out of their lives and they had no control over it. It was not too long, though, before healing began. The comfort of hope was and is the trait of Christian life at its best. We all need to receive it, and we all were baptized to give it.
Fr. James Stephen Behrens is a monk at Monastery of the Holy Spirit, Conyers, Ga.
National Catholic Reporter, October 6, 2006
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