Once upon a time, Anthony, with a bulging grocery bag full of clothes under one brown arm and a faded pink, one-eyed “teddy dog” under the other, came to live with eight Sojourners grownups. Ant was used to living with a lot of people; after all, he did have 10 brothers and sisters, not to mention his Mama. But because their house had recently burned down, his family had no place where they could all stay together. The eight Sojourners said, with some reluctance, “Come live with us.” ...
Even with familiar objects around him, the darkness of night still held a mysterious terror. Sometimes Anthony would wake up with an anguished yell. What sorts of dreams haunt little boys separated from their families? ... Anthony needed a substitute family. We had space in our home, and he worked his way into spaces in our hearts. Little by little, our abstract, theological love for him became personal. He badly needed our consistent love, our playfulness, our fairness in discipline. We badly needed what he had to teach us eight, busy, single individuals about loving through the inconveniences of age and cultural differences. ... In these transient, insecure times, everyone, including an 8-year-old boy, needs to have a private place he can call his own. In light of even harsher times ahead for the poor, we will continue to confront those places in ourselves that are still reluctant to give, to be inconvenienced, to warmly receive whatever needs come our way.
Dolores Arroyo King was a member of Sojourners community when this article appeared.
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