Last weekend, I saw a video of Oprah Winfrey’s Super Soul Conversation with Melinda Gates. In it, Gates speaks of the many trips she’s made to very poor sections of the world and her need, upon return, to decompress, to be alone, to let in the pain she has seen, to “let my heart actually break.”
Just back from the Texas border and service with immigrants at the Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, I know our group is living with plenty of heartbreak. The broken face of Jesus was everywhere, as was his love and beauty. So we continue to let it in: men in line for belts and shoelaces, women in line for shoes; travelers praying the rosary, tears streaming down their cheeks; children waiting for a simple bowl of soup or overjoyed with a mini tootsie pop; a 15 year old boy with chicken pox, a 14 year old girl with newborn baby; ALWAYS, from everyone, “gracias” for any small gesture or smile.
Our volunteer group was amazing. They sliced dozens of loaves of bread (even when frozen!), and cut watermelons, carrots or mangoes by the crate. They served meals, unpacked and sorted donations, cleaned up after sick kids, employed Spanish phrases, and stood for hours to serve the needs of others.
We continue to let the experience in. And while our hearts have been broken, we are deeply grateful for the privilege of meeting these brothers and sisters who have changed our lives. And we remain in solidarity with those who serve the poorest among us, not just one week a year, but day in and day out.