Brother Chris, our principal, has to be away this week on college business. The college is already quite short-staffed, so I was invited to stay on this wonderful campus for another week, something for which I am really grateful.
I have continued praying with the religious community each morning and evening, celebrating the Eucharist with them, and enjoying meals and other times of conversation with them.
I have also enjoyed extending my class on “The Spirituality of the Teacher” with lots of additional material, getting all of the wonderful questions from our bright and inquisitive students, and getting to know all of them better.
I have had some opportunities, too, for talking to them individually and getting to know some of them a bit better, individually. These conversations have helped me to better grasp the reality of these young women and men who have come from such dire poverty and adverse circumstances to be here at the college today. One young man with whom I spoke was abducted and forced to become a “child soldier” at the age of 12. And others have similarly horrific stories.
One of the very beautiful young families here in South Sudan. This is Isaac Kpatamara and his wife Michelin Nabie and their gorgeous daughter, Sandra, one of the families holding so much promise for the future of this country.
On Thursday, I taught the students a beautiful hymn that I have loved for many years. It is one that captures, I feel, the essence of the Christian life as a journey, with Christ and with one another, to heaven, a journey in which we accompany one another in good times and bad. “Accompaniment” is one of our Holy Father Pope Francis’ favorite terms. Sometimes all we can do in a situation is to offer our presence. Sometimes the gift of our presence is all that someone needs. Here are the lyrics to the hymn, by Richard Gillard:
Will you let me be your servant
Let me be as Christ to you
Pray that I may have the grace
To let you be my servant too
We are pilgrims on a journey
Fellow travelers on the road
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load
I will hold the Christ-light for you
In the nighttime of your fear
I will hold my hand out to you
Speak the peace you long to hear
I will weep when you are weeping
When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you
I will share your joy and sorrow
Till we’ve seen this journey through
When we sing to God in heaven
We will find such harmony
Born of all we’ve known together
Of Christ’s love and agony