by Vicky Otto, Precious Blood Companions Director
I have written often about my love of musicals. In November, I had the opportunity to see a production of the currently popular, Dear Evan Hansen. At the beginning of the show, Evan sings a song called “Waving Through a Window.” There is a verse in the song that beautifully echoes our need to renew and rededicate ourselves to listen for the cry of the blood during our New Creation process. He sings, “While I watch, watch, watching people pass, waving through a window, can anybody see, is anybody waving back at me?”
Who is waving through our windows today? I had an experience recently that reminded me of the importance of this message. As the community knows, one of our Companions, Tim Wanner, is currently serving a prison sentence in Illinois. As the Director of Companions, I try to visit all our Companions and I finally had the opportunity to visit Tim this past fall. One thing you should know is I have never been to a prison or had any experience in jail ministry. While preparing for the visit my nerves tried to get the better of me as I wrestled the reality of meeting someone for the first time, what would prison be like, how do I talk for four hours to someone I have never met—and the list went on and on. Looking back now, I realize that I could have stopped at that point and just said, “Nope, not going.” But the Spirit led me on and I went on the visit.
When you check in at the prison, you have to leave your personal belongings in a locker. I think the Spirit helped me to leave my anxieties there as well. We had a wonderful visit. I found Tim to be an interesting man who has read a lot about different subjects and is willing to engage in a lively discussion—even if our opinions didn’t match. He was kind and respectful as we both reached out in faith to form a new relationship. As I looked around the visiting room there were people of all ages and ethnicities who were also engaged in conversations with others who were in prison. There was no holding back or lack of engagement from anyone in the room. When our visit concluded and the visitors were escorted out of the room, there was a sense of sadness from everyone that this bond had to be broken once again.
For me, Tim was waving through a window, through the boundaries and barriers that we put around ourselves so people who don’t fit in our world won’t bother us. As a Precious Blood community, our spirituality calls us to stand with all those people who don’t fit in our world. As our community becomes a new creation, we are called again to remember that we have a duty and responsibility to respond to the cry of the blood. I would imagine that each of us has had those same moments of fear that I did. St. Gaspar wrote, “May our fear be filled with trust in the one who shed for us his most Precious Blood to the last drop.” The fears that we face today are different, but still as relevant as those St. Gaspar faced as he began the community. What doesn’t change, however, is that we don’t stand alone; Christ is always walking with us. St. Gaspar wrote, “You can imagine Jesus walking in front of you in every situation, bearing his cross; or, with a chalice in hand, he has you swallow from it drop by drop.”
Our world needs the healing that the Precious Blood offers us now more than ever. We live in a time when divisions and blatant hostility have become such a norm that most people just shrug their shoulders in response. The cry of the blood calls us to respond differently. As we continue our work as a community to become a new creation, we again must ask ourselves the question, “Where does the cry of the blood call us?” What gives me great hope is that as we explore this question as a new creation we will respond with new vision, with new imagination, with fewer obstacles, and with renewed commitment to our Precious Blood spirituality.
I look forward to the work of the community as we continue to dream and envision this new creation. Where will the cry of the blood call us? My hope is that each of us through prayer and discernment listens anew. We need to see with new eyes those who stands outside the circle in our world today. Who is waving through a window? As we begin this new year, my prayer is that we will look closely through the eyes of faith and wave back. Ω