One of our Ignatian Volunteers served at a day-time drop-in shelter for the poor and the poor in spirit. Late in the season of Lent, he observed a severely mentally ill guest at the shelter admiring a holy card of Christ crucified. Many times the guest snapped his fingers, pirouetted around the room, and talked to his imaginary friends and enemies, but he kept returning to the picture of Christ to admire it.
The volunteer commented to the guest that he seemed to really like the holy card. The guest agreed and, when offered the card, accepted it with alacrity. He turned the card over and pointed to the title, “Prayer of Thanks.” The volunteer asked the guest what he was most grateful for. Without hesitation and with a clear voice the guest replied, “The promise of resurrection.”
(Such faith! Such trust! This guest is truly among the poor in spirit who belong to the kingdom of Heaven!)
The guest went outside to sit on a bench; the volunteer followed and the two sat there wordlessly for about 20 minutes. The guest appeared, however momentarily, to be at peace. An adult life-time of mental suffering was transformed into a moment of peaceful and grateful trust in a God who promises a new and resurrected life
Jim Kelley is the immediate past regional director for IVC Northern Virginia and a former Ignatian Volunteer at the Lamb Center in Fairfax. VA. Jim spent 22 years in various works of the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. He also served as Catholic Relief Services Director in Lesotho and Sierra Leone and as Country Director for Peace Corps in Swaziland. (And we must add that in 2011, Jim was honored as the inaugural recipient of the IVC Conroy-Costello Founders Award which recognizes unique contributions to the strength and viability of the IVC organization by those directly involved in its operation. Thank you Jim!)