Empty Hands

by Cynthia Caruso

It is Advent.  The time of waiting.  A friend and I have come from the 8 a.m. Eucharist at Church of Reconciliation and are now at Jim’s, eating migas.

“How are you living now,” I ask?   

“On donations,” she tells me.  “Someone is paying for the mortgage; friends send checks.  I’m very good at living frugally.” She sighs deeply, as Jesus must have in the Garden of Gethsemane, a ragged sigh.  “I have always depended on R. to fix things.  He could fix anything, and now I’m lost.  The A/C needs to be fixed in order to sell the house, and my hands are empty.  I have nothing left,” she tells me. 

Take nothing for the journey, Jesus told the seventy as he sent them out.  We are not good at doing this, but sometimes we are emptied, like it or not.  We don’t drop easily what is in our tightly-clutched fists, but while we are tending to something like a sick child or a dying spouse, what we have is taken from us, gently but firmly.

I know.  Now my friend knows.  Whole continents of people know every day.

Is this having “nothing for the journey” a loss?  Wall Street would say so, but Wall Street is not our God, and our God knows His people.  These empty hands of my friend are only empty to viewers who do not know the Way.  Outsiders do not see that her hands grasp Jesus’ garment. 

“I have always depended on men to take care of me.  Now there is not one left.  Not my father, not R.’s father, not R.  I will not put myself in that position ever again.  I am going to learn to care for myself.”  She exaggerates.  She is an artist and very capable; but right now, bereft and grieving, she yearns to be independent of the one whose death has left her empty. 

“I have been — we have been — sustained by prayer,” she tells me. “I will continue to trust Him.”  She is doing better than I was when I was in her position.  I debated whether to stay on the Path or not. 

No one in Jim’s — and the place is jammed at 10 a.m. on the second Sunday of Advent — can see my friend’s hands; but I see that they are touching the hem of Jesus’ garment.

Take nothing for the journey.  What I give you, He says, will be enough.

Cynthia Caruso is a seminary student at the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin. She is a former member of St. Boniface Episcopal Church in Comfort TX. Reach her at cwcaruso@alumni.ucdavis.edu.