Reflection shared after Issues Night with the Sisters of the Assumption by Meg Brauckmann, 2017-2018 BSCer serving with the Beloved Community Project
Edward Galeano wrote, “the world was born longing to be a home to everyone.” Part of my work with the Beloved Community is helping to build inclusive community where this dream comes to fruition. This month, we have been reflecting on the themes of hospitality and community. We (BSCers) spent an evening with the Sisters of Assumption in Chaparral, who have joined in the joys and sorrows and daily life of the colonia for over two decades. As we reflected together, one thing that emerged was the tension between how deeply we have been welcomed into community in Cruces and El Paso and the truth that many people within our broader communities do not feel welcomed. People experience exclusion, isolation, and being pushed to the edges for many reasons such as immigration status, having a disability, returning from incarceration, struggling with mental illness, experiencing homelessness, education level, or holding an opposing ideological view, etc.
The sisters reminded us that “we have to pass from reading reality from our privilege to reading the reality of the poor and hearing the discourse of their lives.” To me, this is the challenge of hospitality, to encounter others as holy ground and allow ourselves to be dislodged from our own biases and comfort zones. For many of the young adults with IDD (intellectual and developmental disabilities) whom the Beloved Community supports, they have had experiences of isolation and of not being seen as whole and able to contribute. For me, hospitality is honoring that “there is no one we don’t need.” The young adults I have met are each different and whole—some of their gifts are: being capable, wise, compassionate, sassy, honest, artistic, kind, emotional, aware of their own and others’ needs, funny, perceptive, curious, improvisational, calm, quiet, or expressive—and I am continually discovering new things about them. Sister Chabela envisions the work of hospitality as drawing the experiences of people who have been labeled and marginalized back in– to the center. “You cannot join poverty” (and I would add any of the labels above) “with [a sense] of danger—that will block you in your relationship, your connection, to the world. The real danger is if we do not open opportunities to others.” To me, hospitality and community are based on the hard work of love and vulnerability– the act of taking the risk to fully welcoming our whole selves and the whole selves of others.