Keep Going, There’s Still Room

by Jen Owens

“Keep going, there’s still room,” said Patience. Some of you may remember Patience from a previous post. Instead of expressing her concerns over cold coffee, she was encouraging me to continue pouring hot water from the kettle into their warmers. This warm July morning, Patience was in a much better mood; I even got to know her name during this conversation. But I doubt she realized the impact her words had on me as she hurried away from our breakfast buffet and into line for groceries at HOPE (Help Other People Eat).

For some time now, I have struggled in identifying myself as Catholic. I feel I have a healthy relationship with God, but I often find aspects of the institutional church to be stumbling blocks on my journey of faith. So much so that during Lent, I was barely able to attend Mass, a spiritual practice that had propelled me forward in the past. As I wrote in another post toward the end of Lent, all too often, I hear the message from the institution, “No room for you…no room for you…no room for you.” It contradicts the expansiveness of the Gospels, the inclusivity of Jesus’ example, the vastness of God, yet it persists. I consider myself a conscientized Catholic, one who envisions a church that works for the justice of all its members and mourns the reality of a church that often falls short of its promises. I have come to see living in that in-between-ness as a gift, but one that is not without its pitfalls.

In our conversation this weekend, Patience broke open this Sunday’s word for me. “Keep going, there’s still room,” she said. In her words, I hear Jesus commissioning me into the work to which I have been called. I even get partners on the road in Kate and the other authors and supporters of From the Pews in the Back. If I’m reading it right, the journey is long, the provisions are few, and we can expect the kind of reception that’s fit for a prophet. But when it comes down to it, this is what I’ve been praying for all along. To find community in the in-between spaces. To be reminded that we should keep going, because there’s still room.

Jen Owens is a co-editor of From the Pews in the Back: Young Women and Catholicism.

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2 Responses

  1. I got your message about this one on facebook… thanks for thinking of me! I really like what you said, and I can really relate to the idea of having the gospel broken open and illuminated by small, ordinary encounters.

  2. Sure, Becky–no problem! Thanks for your kind words; I’m glad this piece resonated with you.

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