Unfulfilled Desires

By: Autumn Elizabeth, Editor in Chief 

The things I have wanted that I don’t have could fill a book. Sometimes it is hard not to look at life as a list of unfulfilled desires: the PhD program that I didn’t get into, the marriage that didn’t work out, the job I didn’t get. Sometimes it seems like my path is strewn with only what I don’t have. Given the current state of the world, I know I am not the only one who has unfulfilled desires, I am not the only one who feels the harsh sting of failure, who has done the hard work of mending a broken heart.

So today, when my head started spiral into that negative space, I pulled out my Bible and began to search for wisdom. Now, while I have several bible copies, some pristine, etched in gold, but the Bible I search through isn’t one of those. It is full of highlighted sections and notes in the margins.  It is bookmarked by prayer cards from every funeral I have ever attended, and mementos from many years of bible study. Often, this Bible simply falls open to a page, which seems as good of a place to start as any.

As it happened, today the Bible fell open to one of my favorite passages:

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. –Hebrews 11:1

So there it is. The wisdom I have to share today is to simply have faith. I have to keep walking on my spiritual journey, even when things look bleak and when my hopes end up as unfulfilled desires. I have to trust that I am co-creating something beautiful and meaningful with my God, with my comrades, with my lovers, my friends, and my family.  In short, even when desires remain unfulfilled, when prayers seem unanswered, when wishes are not granted, I must have faith…for the bible tells me so.

Strangers and Angels

By: Autumn Elizabeth

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Hebrews 13:2

Once on the streets of Chicago, in the dark, all alone,  I passed a women sitting on the street with her young child.  I walked past her, and right behind me, a well-dressed women passed her as well.  Then as if we both heard the same whisper of the Divine, we turned around at the same moment.

We walked back to the women and her child.  We shared our names.  My work with house-less people  taught me that many go weeks without hearing their own name. So I spoke this woman’s name, I spoke her son’s name. I let her speak my name. We named each other, three woman and one tiny boy on the streets of an unforgiving city.  I wrote her name down many times, and although I have now forgotten it, it still burns fiercely in my notebook, in another Midwest town, while I again try to find the words for everything that passed between us.

Though the well-dressed woman and I both had other places to be, we stayed on the street.  Our new friend shared her story while shielding her small son from the chilly winds of the windy city.  She told us her son never missed a day of kindergarten, but that his free school lunch was often his only meal.  I gave her the food I had with me, and then the well-dressed woman asked the words I was about to speak, “Can we pray with you?”.  We prayed, three women, three strangers in the middle of the sidewalk in downtown Chicago.

Three powerful women harmonized an Amen,  and it was clear that it was time for each of us to continue our own separate journeys.  As I stood up and began to walk away, I looked back on the woman and child still sitting on the city sidewalk.  The bible stories of my childhood swelled within me–a mother and child, no room at the inn, the last shall be first. For a brief moment, strangers had joined a mother and child, offered gifts and joined together in prayer.  Angels, strangers, sisters, brothers, friends, enemies are all one in moments of prayer.  When we prayed we became more than strangers, we became the living story of Jesus.