A 'Coward' Who Stayed to Help
She said, "truly I know / our part is not knowing, / but looking, and touching, and loving."
You've recently recovered from a bout of asthma and pneumonia. How have you been feeling?
What's really going on is: I'm disoriented; I'm confused; I don't recognize the city anymore. And yet there's a deep inner peace as I spend an hour of prayer in the morning and an hour in the evening. The word I keep hearing inside is, "Peace is my gift to you." And so the peace is inside while my external self deals with disorientation, confusion, anxiety about the city. Will it ever come back? Will it be two, or three, or many years? Should I move? If the airlines stop flying, my ministry's over. I'm not just saying that. We've got such a sparse population now. What will I do with the rest of my life?
You may have to move if you want to continue your ministry.
Yes. And I don't know where to go. There have been several invitations, ranging from my sister in Newark to a community in Kansas City. I have three commitments a month to speak, usually three, four, sometimes five days. Right now I'm 25 minutes from the airport.
So I'm saying what so many displaced people without jobs have said: I don't know what to do. I really don't. It's unnerving, discouraging, and as I've said earlier, disorienting. And here I amone of the most blessed people in the whole New Orleans community, where many people are without employment and many homes are still under water. They're saying, "I don't know what to do." I'm just a faint echo of their uncertainty. But so far the road to the airport is, clear and I continue traveling to speak and lead retreats.
What keeps you going?
Acts 20 verse 24 is the reason why. I could find a thousand wonderful excuses for not going on the road anymore. In fact, the people at Samford University, where I just spoke, said they were amazed I showed, given what's happened. But it was this mission and this grace and the call I got to preach the gospel of grace. So I keep going on the road.
What is it like to travel so often?
It's a lonely life. There's no sense of anticipation about coming home. This really is not home. It's a place where I change my clothes and wash them.
What is home for you?
Home is John 15:4. The Message puts it: "Make your home in me just as I do in you." In a sense I'm lonely, but I'm not alone. I have a very strong sense of the presence of Jesus walking through this catastrophe not only with me, but also the whole neighborhood and the city.
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More about Brennan Manning is available from his website.
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CT's full Hurricane coverage is available on our site.