From the Bishop September 2020

From the Bishop September 2020

 

By: Bishop Francis I. Malone

Dates are important – both the good dates, like birthdays and anniversaries; so are bad dates, like November 22, 1963 or September 11, 2001.  There are some dates that are forever etched in our minds that we could never forget them.  In particular, I am thinking of those dates that resulted in a sense of being overwhelmed to the point of feeling so totally lost or abandoned that recovery from whatever it was that happened eludes or evades us.

Fortunately, I have had only one of those overwhelming dates in my life, God has been so good to me.  But I know the feeling of being overwhelmed, and I have encountered too many people in my life who felt the same way. Have you one of those dates, an event, a memory that stays with you because it overwhelmed you at the time?  Have you ever encountered a person in such a condition?

The frustrating part of encountering someone who is overwhelmed is trying to help them get through it – or past it.

2020 has been quite an unusual year for us all.  As a nation we have had to face the reality of issues related to the inequality of race relations, and the violence that followed, and continues to surface.  We watch the news, or we talk to those negatively impacted by such events, and we can see their hurt and hear about their pain, and we know they are overwhelmed…lost…abandoned.

Then the Coronavirus comes our way – and not just our way, but globally infects most of the world.  No one seems to be immune to it, and it doesn’t take much to observe the sick, their families, those on the front lines of health care. Without a vaccine and in the face of increased numbers of the sick and the dying – so many become overwhelmed by this pandemic that seems to have no end.

Then nature raises its ugly head in the form of a Hurricane.  How odd that we give them names instead of numbers, as if personalizing them makes them seem less ominous.  Hurricanes are not new to us – we even have a “season” dedicated to when they are most likely to come our way.  Hurricane “Laura” came to Louisiana in the last week of August, and left in its wake the kind of destruction from which people do not recover easily. In the aftermath of the storm, the news reports have us listening and watching the devastation it left behind.  Simply put, those who call Lake Charles “home,” have been overwhelmed.  2020 has given us more than we could ever have anticipated, and for those of us who escaped the catastrophic results, we are left to ponder the situation with a question, “what can I do for those who are overwhelmed?  They are, after all, our Louisiana brothers and sisters.

In the early 1990’s, in the face of the increased terroristic attacks in our country and in the world, our daily news gave us front row seats to some of the most overwhelming events we will ever witness in our lives.  There was an interview on a news program of Mr. Fred Rogers by a reporter who asked Mr. Rogers what we should tell our children when they see these events on television.  “How should we counsel them?” the reporter asked.  Mr. Rogers’ response was, “tell the children, ‘look for the helpers…look for the helpers in those terrible images.’”  His counsel then, remains the best advice we can hear today in the face of racial tension and violence, in the pandemic that challenges those in the health care field, in the rush of first responders in the aftermath of a hurricane.  For our part in the Diocese of Shreveport, we have been taking up a collection to aid Lake Charles, we have been collecting much needed tarps to cover homes from continued water damage, we have supplied thousands of bottles of water for those without water to drink.  I asked our diocese to help in these ways because I am confident in your response – but also because I knew that the stuff of what you are made as a community of faith places you in the body of “helpers” who, when all is said and done, will alleviate the sense of being overwhelmed in our brothers and sisters.  Your response makes me so blessed to be your bishop, and in the name of the overwhelmed, to thank you.