by the Rev’d Craig Lemming
And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” – Matthew 8:20
Beatrice and I woke up to the raucous banter of inebriated men keying into the apartment we thought we had subleased that summer. Our sighs of relief that these interlopers were our classmates from New England Conservatory soon turned into sighs of panic when we discovered they were moving in! The apartment’s two tenants that we and they had respectively subleased from clearly hadn’t communicated with each other; both of whom by then were overseas and unreachable. This would be the second instance of unfortunate miscommunications that resulted in homelessness for Beatrice and me in the summer of 2002. A month earlier we’d lost our deposits on a bogus sublease, and then the jazz guys’ sublease had been signed and dated before ours, so we had no case, no money, and nowhere to live.
We spent that month on friends’ couches and floors, scoured notice boards and Craigslist for sublets (all of which were taken by then), and most mornings we’d go to work not knowing when we’d eat or where we’d end up staying at night. We survived thanks to the trust we had in each other, in friends, in strangers, in creativity, and most of all trust in the providence and generosity of Spirit. We eventually rented a single room from an exceedingly handsome Parisian who had to return urgently to France following his father’s death. Our roommate for the rest of the summer was a sweet and slightly eccentric Czech composer who enjoyed copious amounts of coffee and marijuana, while Beatrice and I subsisted on ramen noodles, popcorn, and frozen vegetables.
This September St. John’s Faith Formation Commission has curated a vibrant discipleship series that helps us to care for our financial health in this time of economic uncertainty and anxiety during a global pandemic. The spiritual practice of Narrative Theology helps us discern Holy Wisdom at the intersections of Scripture, the classic film It’s A Wonderful Life (1946), the book Integrating Money and Meaning: Practices for a Heart-Centered Life, and our own money-and-faith autobiographies. Register for this series today!
In the book Integrating Money and Meaning author Maggie Kulyk introduces readers to eight “Money Energies” which are personified by characters in the film It’s a Wonderful Life. Beatrice and I are both practitioners of sacred arts now and we’ve remained committed to living with resilience, creativity, and an interdependent trust in relationships that are mutually life-giving. We’re still spinning gold out of straw, so I see both of us in the Money Energy Kulyk calls “The Creator/Artist” which is exemplified by Mary Hatch Bailey in the film. In the following scene, after she sacrifices their honeymoon money to save her husband’s family business, we witness Mary’s resourceful spirit and creativity as she transforms their drafty, leaky, old house into a romantic honeymoon hotel.
I’ll look forward to journeying with you into our Money Energies and spiritual autobiographies this September as we integrate the meaning of money and our Christian faith. May God bless all of us as we faithfully trust in the abundant life promised to us in Christ.
Almighty and most merciful God, we remember before you all poor and neglected persons whom it would be easy for us to forget: the homeless and the destitute, the old and the sick, and all who have none to care for them. Help us to heal those who are broken in body or spirit, and to turn their sorrow into joy. Grant this, Father, for the love of your Son, who for our sake became poor, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.