Joy is not a bad thing

13 12 2009

Ignatius would not recommend decisions made in times of extreme happiness or consolation and extreme depression or desolation.  Susan and I decided to do Enduring Hope for a second year as she crossed the finish line to the chants of cheering young men from Xavier High School in Jackson Square last April.

If Ignatius was there, he would have recommended against the timing of our decision.

Yet, the adrenaline from the first annual New Orleans IronMan competition has propelled us into our second year even more excitable and poised to raise funds and awareness. I am still pinching myself.  As of today, we have got a total of 27 confirmed athletes for Team Enduring Hope 2009-2010. (And… we still need 2 bicyclists and 3 swimmers to round out the relay teams!)

Susan raised both awareness for the residents still trying to get back into their homes and about $4,000 for Contemplatives in Action last year… I can only imagine what a team of 27 can do these next few months.

We need a retreat center.  We need a place for folks to re-assess their lives, their decisions, their options.  It has been 53 months since Hurricane Katrina.  Our leaders, decision makers, pastors, teachers, business owners, builders, volunteers, and everyone else who continues to help… they all need rest.

But, isn’t it a funny human thing caregivers do… they rely so much on offering others help that they forget themselves in the process.  The caregivers here in New Orleans ought to be taken care of… but rest may seem like a luxury.  Care may seem excessive in this busy pace that we try so desperately to keep.  Most helpers offer compassion to others first and fail to see to their own well-being

This Sunday we celebrate Gaudete by lighting the rose or pink candle as a sign of joy amidst the great anticipation of Christmas.  We believe that joy is amidst us as much as it is something to look forward to.  Joy is a genuine and deeply profound trust in God’s care and compassion.

I can’t help but think that our ministry may seem like a luxury to folks.  We eat well, we offer a clean and cared for home, we listen with the depths of our hearts, and we become friends with all we meet.  We believe in God’s providence… in the abundance of God’s goodness and grace.

Today, I took a group of students from the University of St. Mary’s from Leavenworth, KS on a tour of the city.  The rain was coming down in buckets, and they got a glimpse of just how much water New Orleans retained 53 months ago.  They asked how people are doing, and I told them that I couldn’t speak for everyone.  In fact, people are all over the map when it comes to their feelings about staying in New Orleans, leaving New Orleans, coming back to New Orleans, etc.  However, I did offer them this one insight: New Orleanians have learned and continue to teach others how to share.  Because when we share we begin to understand that there is enough to go around.  In fact, when we share, we have got an abundance.

Susan shared her interest and her passion with us last year.  Her efforts led to the recruiting of a team of 27 athletes of faith and counting…

Contemplatives in Action continues to be living proof that our God is a good, just, righteous, and compassionate God whom we can fully put our trust in and be taken care of.  Thanks to the gifts of so many friends over the past 43 months, CIA has been able to offer hospitality and relief at no cost to New Orleans residents.

With Team Enduring Hope’s help, we can establish a legacy of care and relationship that endures even beyond these next few months of training.

Please continue to pray for our athletes.  Please continue to pray for our neighbors.

Jocelyn A. Sideco, Spiritual Coach and Executive Director of Contemplatives in Action

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