Monday, May 19, 2008

Desert Angels

There is a mixed bag of good works listed in Chapter 4 of the Rule of St Benedict. Benedict starts off with the 2 Great Commandments. IMO, everything that follows in Ch 4 and indeed the entire RB is commentary upon the 2 Great Commandments. How to incarnate these 2 Great Commandments in to our lives and beings.

"Not to become attached to pleasures" is an interesting one, would you agree? Pleasures do come to us, some we seek out, but we are not to become attached to them because, I think, it means they would to that extent have replaced God in our lives. And nothing must do that, Benedict teaches us.

"To bury the dead" has a slightly new meaning to me today than it did on, say, Saturday. Last evening while driving somewhere, I listened to an interview. Well, part of one. It was on my favorite local jazz radio station (KSDS 88.3 San Diego if any are interested). At 6PM on Sunday they interrupt the jazz for interviews. I d din;t catch who was being interviewed or who was interviewing, but they were discussing 2 volunteer groups here in San Diego: The Border Angels and the Desert Angels.

Both of these groups have a heart for the basic, common, simple humanitarian needs that we all share. Their out reach is to those trying to cross illegally from Mexico into Southern California. A good deal of our common border is desert or the Peninsular Mountain Range. The Border Angels deliver fresh water to several locations and they have signs up in the wild places telling people where to find the water.

The Desert Angles have a different purpose. Crossing the border has become a life threatening situation. The Border patrol on occasion have shot illegal immigrants. Much more frequent is that the Border Patrol chase vehicles. The drivers try to elude the patrol and there are these high speed chases on the freeways or even surface streets. Inevitably there is an accident and people die. Another issue is that people who walk across the desert get lost and die of hunger, thirst or mountain lion. So if a family in Mexico hasn't heard from their loved one, they contact the Desert Angels who go out and search. If the Desert Angels find a dead body, they not only return it to the grieving family, but they also put up a cross and plant flowers where they found the body. They honor the dead.

When I heard this, I immediately thought of this passage in the RB. Many people here in Southern California only think in punitive terms when it comes to those crossing the border illegally. You may remember how much of So CA was destroyed by the wildfires this past autumn. When people came to the shelters, they were carded to see if they were illegal immigrants or not. If they were, they were denied food, water, clothing and were loaded into vans and taken into Mexico. If they were Mexican, of course. if they were of other nationalities they were imprisoned pending deportation.

Reading this section of the Rule, I note that as did Jesus, Benedict does not limit those on the receiving end to the worthy, deserving or the legal. Human need is human need, they both seem to me to say.


Post a Comment

<< Home