Among Those For Whom No One Else Cares

"To be concerned with the outcast is an echo, of course, of the Gospel itself. Characteristically, the Christian is to be found in his work and witness in the world among those for whom no one else cares--the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the misfits, the homeless, the orphans and beggars. The presence of the Christian among the outcasts is the way in which the Christian represents, concretely, the ubiquity and universality of the intercession of Christ for all men."
--William Stringfellow, My People is the Enemy

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21 thoughts on “Among Those For Whom No One Else Cares”

  1. One night, soon after receiving a letter confiming my place on the training  course to become an educational psychologist, I asked God why He was opening the door from a secure, worthwhile teaching job to years of financial and emotional insecurity.  A hundred and fifty people had applied for the six places; I was rejected at the first interview and received a last-minute phone call calling me for second interview to make up numbers (as one interviewer helpfully told the other as we began the meeting the next day);  I was ill, feeling lousy and had only just recovered my voice; it was a hectic week; I'd had no time to prepare; all the other candidates were beautiful, confident twenty-somethings.

    Not a second passed before words unbidden and unexpected materialised in my mind like a remembered conversation:  "Because you will be among the misfits, the rejected, the misunderstood, the marginalised, the disenfranchised, the powerless and I want you to understand - to feel as I do."  It is one of four or five such experiences in my life.

    This sounds so close to melodrama that I have hardly told anyone I know - and I've never yet managed to convey the emotion that accompanied the words - something akin to a heart breaking combined with a terrible beauty.  But it happens to be the truth as I understand it.  It was the first step on a journey that turned my life upside down and which led me here, to this space I share with Richard and all of you.  I like to remind myself of this experience when I start taking myself too seriously. 

  2. Powerful, Andrew.  I count it a privilege -- and a blessing -- to have been led to your door.  Thank you for sharing this moment with us.

  3. Sam, sorry to intrude, but has your father's funeral taken place yet? And if so, how did it go? I have no doubt that you found (or will find) the right words.

    Take care, Jim

  4. Yes, Jim -- the funeral was Tuesday at a National Cemetery in Florida.  I spoke a few words about him, and spoke to his companion and her family, and then I recited the 23rd Psalm (KJV).

    The flag from his casket was presented to me as his only son by the U.S. Marine Corps honor guard.  It was an emotional moment.

    In the end I too found the right words, and she said it was
    "perfect".  What I did, I did for her and hers.  I was the only one from
    his family there.

  5. I thank everyone here for the emotional and moral support.  I felt it all alone down there, and I appreciate it deeply.

  6. I am glad that you were able to touch them with such well chosen words. You are a gracious and honorable man.

    Peace to you.

  7. I have often wondered about the words you found, Sam.  Thank-you for sharing the end of your story.  I was humbled to feel part of something that was so real and immediate despite us all knowing one another only by a mixed bag of blog comments.  Sometimes I sense God at work amongst our little fellowship and it still surprises me how much it means to me.

  8. This is what, in my deepest soul-being, I sense is true of Christ and what it means to have life in Him.  I saw the attribution for this quote and got even more excited to get my Amazon shipment of 'Unclean' (which should be here within a few days).  This:  " the secret love-child of Oliver Sacks and William Stringfellow" tells me I'm going to like what's written in your book very much!

  9. You're in for a treat, Susan.  I think of that book so often.  It puts words around something very important, I think.  Every chapter has a moment when you stop reading just to revel in the quiet joy of truth.  Happy reading!

  10. I think so too, Andrew.  If we passed on the street, chances are none of us in this group would even know it, but the experiences shared through comments and posts does make a fellowship. I think it may be a great example of the Little Way, because words matter, and grace extends through them. You, Sam, Jim731, Richard, Susan N., Gary Y and others here - it humbles and encourages me to be among you. As one who was never part of any in-group/cool kids, thank you for including me, from my heart.

  11. "Words matter, and grace extends through them."

    That's a great sentence.  I'd never of it that way before.

  12. There's a powerful pictorial illustration of the power of words in two photos here:  It's the third post down, dated Oct. 11. (It won't let me go to the individual post's page.)

  13. Sam,

    "Cast on Him every care."  Did not know your father was a Marine.  Marines leave no one behind, reminding us that God is Semper Fi!


  14. Andrew,

    Thank you so much for sharing. I am in graduate school right now studying to become a therapist and what you said, ""Because you will be among the misfits, the rejected, the misunderstood, the marginalized, the disenfranchised, the powerless and I want you to understand - to feel as I do," resonated so much in my heart. It reminded me of why I am putting myself through so much hardship when I don't need to. 

    You managed to put into words what my experience has been, "something akin to a heart breaking combined with a terrible beauty."


  15. I feel so fortunate to be in a job where my personal and professional values meet and inform one another.  Alas, these values are easily eroded in a job where so many bring their own agenda to a child's need.  That's why I'm so grateful to have this experience to recall me to my purpose from time to time.  I'm grateful too to this community for such a generous and respectful response to it.  Hold on in there, Genoveva.  I know it's a tough climb, but the view's worth it.

  16. I have seen the first image, shared by a friend on Facebook.  The second one (Stand Up for Love), I had not seen.  And I really love it.  You're pretty cool in my book, Patricia.  It's a joy to connect with you in a meaningful way here at ET; I don't think the significance of it is diminished by the digital location of our meeting place :-)  ~Peace~

  17. Thank you once again Patricia!
    This is essentially my only TRUSTED fellowship.
    Gary Y.

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