Heaps and Wholes

Aristotle said that a whole is more than the sum of it's parts. In other words, if you took all of the pieces of something and piled them together that pile is not equal to the thing itself.

This past week in south Louisiana has been a vivid portrait of that idea. As I drove down one street  affected by the flood, earlier in the week, lined with seemingly insurmountable heaps of the remains of so many people's livelihoods I couldn't get those two words out of my head; heaps and wholes. Those piles of carpet and wood and furniture and sheetrock (so much sheetrock) are no longer home to the families that only a week ago sought refuge and comfort and joy in its, now demolished, walls. That heap on the side of the road is not home. Home is so much more than the careful construction of lumber. Home will have to be rebuilt, slowly, painstakingly with heartbreak and sweat and hardship and given life once again by the family and the love that it holds. But even though many many thousands (unimaginable amounts) of homes and businesses have been torn down from wholes to heaps this week, tearing down has not been the lead in the story of the "great" cajun flood of 2016. No, our story has been quite the opposite. Ours is the story of building up. It is the story of individuals who,  before now were strangers who perhaps a few weeks ago would have divided themselves into categories of blue and black and white, parts when put all together seemed to make nothing but one great heap, have now become whole. We have become more than ourselves. At our worst, we have become our best and we have discovered that we are better together.

Those who need help that they could not have imagined have been blessed by friends and neighbors and strangers. And yet, those who have helped have perhaps been blessed even more. Suffering with and for others is eternally fruitful and it is a hunger in us that demands to be fed. We didn't even realize we were starving! But if we know only one thing about Cajuns it's that we don't ever stay hungry for very long. Carry on Cajuns and when our homes are rebuilt and whole again let us remain whole with them!

Suffering Unleashes Love

 Following the parable of the Gospel, we could say that suffering, which is present under so many different forms in our human world, is also present in order to unleash love in the human person, that unselfish gift of one’s “I” on behalf of other people, especially those who suffer. The world of human suffering unceasingly calls for, so to speak, another world: the world of human love; and in a certain sense man owes to suffering that unselfish love which stirs in his heart and actions. The person who is a “neighbor” cannot indifferently pass by the suffering of another: this in the name of fundamental human solidarity, still more in the name of love of neighbor. He must “stop,” “sympathize,” just like the Samaritan of the Gospel parable. - John Paul II (Salvifici Doloris)


Popular Posts