"I know now that true charity consists in bearing all our neighbors defects - not being surprised at their weakness, but edified at their smallest virtues."
Therese de Lisieux
the bridge ministry
One of the things I love out at the bridge is the way we are all neighbors. Some would say we bear our neighbors defects and weaknesses out there. . .and we do. But they also bear with us in our weaknessess. We are Christians, but we are not perfect. Just forgiven. And in that forgiveness, we reach out to share the love of Christ with these neighbors at the bridge, who in turn, love us back.
We are amazed at the resiliance, the good nature, the continueing smiles. I asked one man who by the worlds standards, has nothing, how I could pray for him. He thought for a minute and then smiled at me saying all was good, that he was blessed, and did not need anything. I wonder sometimes if their virtues are not bigger than we first think. Many do not complain, many do not ask for anything. They just come down for the meal and fellowship.
A couple of men came to us this past Tuesday evening somewhat tipsy, but still smiling, still friendly. Yes, they have a weakness and we are there to pray for them. They know at the bridge on Tuesday nights, they have a family there who cares, and who will lift them up to the Lord. We have the chance to share about the Lord and His Word. I think it seeps in. This night as I shared, one of the men began to cry. I'm not sure why. I don't know if he knew. But something was working inside of him. So we just continue to pray for this neighbor of ours.
We are not surprised at their weaknesses because we have our own we deal with. It may not be the same, but a weakness is a weakness whether that be alcohol, eating too much, smoking, or exagerating, or laziness.
And their virtues? We celebrate their virtues, their goodness, their good news, their smiles despite the hardness of life. I believe their small virtues are not so small. . .and we rejoice and celebrate the good and we will continue to pray them through their weaknesses and they say they will pray for us too.
Maybe true charity goes in both directions.