2People in need of Shelter

During this past year following our Healing Conference, I found myself thinking frequently about “poverty.” I thought it was evident, and by now that its meaning in my life would be “clear.” Yet I needed to realize that “poverty” has many faces, which are not always easy to see.

Slowly, during these past few months, memories of some images, situations, and lived experiences came to mind to which I could finally give a face and name. I remembered the sensation I felt in those circumstances. I did not have a way out, or at least, did not have the usual ways I thought I could find.

 

 

The Poverty of Having
One experience that put a face to my feeling “poor” occurred this past winter, a colder one than usual. It was an experience of poverty “in reverse,” that is, not as something that was missing for me – beyond the normal distress, this too was a winter spent among all the comfort of being sufficiently protected. This time I felt the poverty of “having,” of not missing anything. I felt this type of poverty piercing me like hooks that leave a mark.

3aSr. Tina Ventimiglia with family

At night, my sleep was crowded with the voices and faces of those who had tried to ask me for shelter, clothes, blankets, and help during the day. Many had run out of gas and had empty tanks; for many of these folks, gas had been disconnected because they had not paid their bill. During the coldest days of the year these people would remain in complete cold, without the possibility of cooking.

I realized during this time that my own being was becoming transformed by being in touch with the suffering of those who do not have -- a bit like Sr. Antonietta Potente described during our Conference:  “. . . this happens mostly in strange silent transformations.  It happens with whatever already exists, as new things are taken out of old things….” Later I found the strength to accept this state of being, without fleeing the discomfort I was feeling and without giving in to justifications or guilt because there was nothing else I could do.

4aSr. Tina holds the future

My “being there” became an “offering” to God, to the Only one Who never abandons you.  Aware that we cannot rid the world of poverty and suffering, I felt that there was one thing that I could – and must – do: take the suffering of others, receive and offer them within a journey of transformation that generates new things, like the kernel of wheat which falls to the ground, dies and brings forth much fruit.

Today I do not worry about my being "poor" because I lack something or about others being "poor" because of what they lack. My own poverty is my need to learn the logic of the Gospel from Jesus our Teacher: he teaches us to conjugate the verbs of life and to realize that the verb "to love" is a tense/mode of the verb "to die." 

 

Sr. Tina Ventimiglia, sfp