A while back, I was reflecting with some folks in my parish about the language we use when we pray in church. One woman said that she finds it awkward to pray for “the poor, the lonely, the sick, and those in need.” She wisely reflected, “Who isn’t lonely, to some degree? Who isn’t sick or needy in some way or another?” Being human means carrying an ever-changing complexity of conditions all the time. And being a person of faith — any faith — means understanding yourself to be implicated in your neighbor’s suffering, loneliness, or poverty, and saying yes to the call to respond.
Praying in and alongside of suffering is important. But knowing where to refer someone who needs tangible help or expert care is also important. A year ago, Watertown took a great leap forward by hiring a Social Services Resource Specialist named Danielle DeMoss. I met Danielle early on, and I keep her phone number right next to the phone in the church office. She is the go-to person when someone needs help and I’m not sure how to help them. If you live in Watertown, check this link and put Danielle’s number in your phone now!
The need for affordable shelter, food, mental health services, financial assistance, and other services is growing, growing, growing. The complexity of need is growing, too. I hope funding for Danielle’s position is at least maintained, ideally increased. I hope that all of us, when we go to the polls on Tuesday, cast votes that work for the relief of suffering rather than its perpetuation. And I pray that, even in the midst of our own personal hardships, we can link arms with those who truly need a boost to stay upright.