Rev. Chava’s Reflection On Gifts
Here is a beautiful reflection by Rev. Chava Redonnet,RCWP, Priest with the Migrant Workers in New York State. Please remember Rev. Chava’s church in your prayers and giving. They are nearly able to buy the house for the church they so richly deserve. Address on bottom.
thank you and blessings,
Rev. Dr. Judy Lee
Rev. Chava’s Reflection Sunday July 3, 2016, Oscar Romero Church
One day many years ago, someone complemented me on my singing. I deflected the complement, thinking of all the wonderful singers we had at church – Eastman students, and professionals, lots of amazing voices. But I felt in my spirit a powerful nudge that said, “don’t devalue your singing!!!” It was like an order.
I think about that sometimes when I’m leading services. Whether at St Romero’s on Sunday mornings, or at the Migrant Mass, or leading services on the floors at the nursing home, we are singing a capella. Without my voice, there is no music. I sing in the car to Santiago all the time, too. He calls me his pajarita, his little bird.
So this past week, we had that reading where Jesus sends people out “like lambs among wolves” and tells them not to bring anything with them, and to accept whatever hospitality they are given. That’s a lot like our little church, worshipping in borrowed spaces, with makeshift altars, no musicians, sometimes even out in the open air. The floor services in the nursing home are like that, too, just making church with what we have and the people that are there. It was so hot one day last week I chose not to wear my alb, and thought that fit pretty well with “don’t even bring an extra cloak.”
Services in the nursing home are usually pretty sleepy affairs, with just one or two really alert people in the room. This week, though, in that one service, it was like a light went on. We were singing “Lord of the Dance,” and people were clapping. One woman was dancing in her wheelchair. A man who was visiting sang along, and his bass voice made it feel like we really had music happening, almost as good as if we’d had an instrument accompanying us. When it was over he thanked me and said “That was great!” It wasn’t until later that I realized, a big part of what made it great was his voice! He was our gift in that moment.
Are you aware of yourself as gift? When I was a student chaplain, we students tended to want to walk into patient’s rooms with stuff in our hands – Bibles, prayer books, rosaries, whatever. Our teachers told us over and over, “YOU are what you bring into the room!” It was our listening presence that people needed, not the stuff we carried.
I think when we are aware of ourselves as gift, we are more easily aware of the gift that others are to us. The giving always goes both ways!
We won’t be having the migrant Mass this week, or Mass at St Romero’s on Sunday, because I will be away. I’m going to Boston to speak at Spirit of Life church, where Jean Marchant and Ron Hindelang are pastors. Jean asked me to bring pictures, so this week I found all the pictures from five years of the migrant ministry to put on a flash drive. I found photos I’d forgotten, pictures of so many old friends, most of whom have moved on – deported, or moved away – but lots of happy memories.
Blessings and peace, and enjoy this beautiful summer. (Beautiful, but they badly need rain out near Batavia!)
Love to all , Chava
Oscar Romero Church An Inclusive Community of Liberation, Justice and Joy
Worshiping in the Catholic Tradition Mass: Sundays, 11 am
St Joseph’s House of Hospitality, 402 South Ave, Rochester NY 14620 A member community of the Federation of Christian Ministries