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I can't be trusted with bible school swag...

...and this is why...
Aragorn son of Arathorn, heir to the throne of Gondor
Allow me to use this silliness to put a plug in for one of my favorite Tolkien/Catholic books:
Bradley Birzer's J.R.R. Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-Earth. It will help you delve deeply into Tolkien's faith and how it influenced the creation of Middle Earth. There's parallels everywhere such as the white city of Gondor representing Rome and the lembas representing the Eucharist, etc.  Strange as it sounds this book and Tolkien's works in general can help you make sense of some of some Catholic traditions. I seriously can't recommend this book enough. 

Okay, enough procrastination. Back to the boring excel spreadsheets and impending statistics analysis doom. Boo!

Pax Vobiscum

Charity and Comfort Zones

I must have one of those faces that people trust. Even when I try to avoid people, they find a way of nudging me back to the world called charity. I am very, very, painfully shy around people. I used to be better at it back when I had a social life and didn't spend most of my days toiling around in a lab. I got worse after moving to NYC. I am awful with money, so I don't carry it. When I do carry it, I tend to give it to homeless people. NYC has a lot of homeless people. Worse yet, when I don't have money, I feel bad about not having money and try to avoid eye contact...more because it shames me that I cannot help them. I am so awful for doing this because sometimes, all a homeless person wants is to be treated like any other human being. Still, there are moments where the Holy Spirit compels me to turn back after briskly walking by and avoiding eye contact. These moments turn into powerful experiences. 

This week, I was walking to work and saw an older woman walking about with that shuffle that I typically associate with the homeless. I didn't have money on me so I started veering ever so slightly to the right to make a wider arch around her when I got close. This did nothing to prevent her from walking towards me, however. Holding up a tattered Post-it with a doctor and an address scribbled on it, she asked me for directions. I hardly every know enough to give suitable directions. My husband always pokes fun at my ability to use bushes, fence posts, weird building signs, etc. when giving directions instead of street names and distance. Needless to say, I am not the most helpful guide.
Still, I have a hard time refusing help when it is asked of me.

This woman was in a state by the time she got to me. She asked me for directions to a neuro specialist in the area and I had no idea where this office was. I tried to get an idea where she came as she seemed disoriented and scared. She started to cry, telling me she had been walking all morning and that she never wanted to come to this place again. At that point, I told her I would not leave her until I got her where she needed to go. I also tried to crack a few jokes to make her feel a little better. I turned into her advocate after my Google maps search proved fruitless, I went into buildings and asked people for directions. Security guards, construction workers, you name it. I would not have gotten the courage to ask some of these people if it was just me depending on it. 

I got her where she needed to go and then went off on my way, wondering about this interruption to the Angelus I had been trying to pray. My praying was a bit thrown off for that morning, but I supposed that I had done the right thing. If that was my dad 20 years from now, I would hope that some stranger would help him if he sought their aid. I'd imagine the world would be a darker place if nobody took that courageous step out of their comfort zone in order to help a complete stranger. Instances like this one, as awkward as they could be for someone like me at times, help remind us that we are humans in need of reminders for the holiness we are to strive for. Let's face it, there isn't much opportunity for charity when I am glued to a computer for stretches of several hours as I take brain measurements. Yes, I may actively attempt charity of mind as I think about my life and those I have known over the years. However, this kind of charity is lacking in the sense that it remains within a person. It does not extend as far as a charitable act that you actively do for someone. Both forms of charity are noble...but that second one can do so much for a soul in need. 

I have to try harder to get over this shyness thing and even harder to make God's presence known to this world through acts like helping an vulnerable elderly woman get to her doctor. I thank God that He sometimes throws people like this woman into my life so that I can learn to become a better person.

Pax Vobiscum