Wheels of communion

April 1, 2019 - 12:00am -- Living City

Wheels of communion
The search to fill a need connects people in unexpected ways

I was walking from the train station to school and met Gloria, one of the homeless people with whom I have chatted frequently over the years. Since we know each other’s names, Gloria and I usually shake hands and occasionally give each other a hug. I always enjoy what is also her usual greeting to everyone: “Have a good day in Jesus.”

This time, however, she stopped me very deliberately, and I could see she had something urgent to tell me. Her portable shopping cart had broken, and she had held it together with plastic bags tied like ropes.

“Can you help me find another one?” she asked. I told her I would look around and see what I could do.

“Jesus, we need a sturdy cart with wheels for Gloria.” An initial round of emails revealed that we didn’t have any extra carts on hand in our Focolare houses. As another friend was poking around among her contacts, I did an internet search to see what a new one would cost: about $45 for one of the right size and sturdiness. I began to imagine a mini-fundraising campaign with some colleagues at work.

But after only 10 minutes, one of my colleagues informed me that there was an extra wheeled shopping cart in one of the offices. When I went to check it out, it was exactly the right size and type, and in very good condition.

The next morning, I brought the cart and a cup of coffee to Gloria at the place where she usually stands on Tuesdays. She was overjoyed to see me. I asked, “Will this work for you?”

“I love it,” she replied.

Sometimes when I hear the words of Pope Francis about the culture of indifference generated by consumerism, I feel a little bit sad that I am not always able to do something more concrete for the people that I meet on the street. That day I felt a special joy, the joy of being able to do something to help set the wheels of communion in motion.

A. U., Maryland

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