What do you do when a man breaks down in tears on your doorstep? A man who also appears to be angry, shaking his fist at God… or the gods… or the bad situation that brought him to this door to begin with. What do you do when you have none of the resources that he thinks he wants or needs?
At this moment, all the pastors are out of the building, as are all of the maintenance guys who tend to double as “security.” And in the city, safety is often the guiding rule.
A man crying (or seeming to, it is hard to tell on the little video monitor that looks out on the door) breaks through the callous that easily develops as the receptionist or secretary — a callous that comes because most folks who land on the doorstep seeking help are rude and demanding, many changing their story several times in the midst of conversation.
Allyn and I have had a lot of discussions about relief vs. recovery — about how the way to treat systemic problems is not through the bandaids that relief provides, but that recovery work is needed. It is hard to know what that does or should look like. It is hard to fix something that seems beyond repair. It is hard to acknowledge that perhaps I have much to learn from the man crying on the doorstep and that I am in as much need of repair as the system in which he lives.
“Peace be with you” (or ya’ll or yinz or you guys), but on days like today, it will have to come from a place higher than me.