July 18, 2022, 1:00 PM

       And forgive us our sins.  Luke 11:4

St. Francis lived in a cave for a period of time.  The cave gave him shelter and solace as he prayed about God’s providence.  St. Francis found that life can spring forth from the care of the cave.

As I peered out of a restaurant window this past week on Cape Cod, I saw an unusual event.  I saw a “cave” that was formed from a boat that had been turned over on the beach.  This particular boat had been resting on the beach in the same place for many years. 

The “cave” that was formed under the boat was occupied by a thin, desolate-looking older man whose only possession appeared to be a black backpack.  He was now walking in circles appearing distressed and disoriented.  His shoulders were hunched over, and he had an anguished look on his face.  He watched two other people attach a rope to the boat which he had called home, a group of people turn the boat over, and the same group drag the boat onto a boat trailer that was attached to a small pickup truck. 

According to the international wait staff at the restaurant who were now peering out the windows, the man had been living under the boat and in his “cave” for several years, enduring even the coldest of northeastern winters.  Out of compassion, the workers in the restaurant frequently brought food to the man.  However, today was different.

The wait staff appeared as anxious and upset as the man.  They too felt isolated and powerless as the man’s “cave” was taken away.  The wait staff wanted the “popo” (police) to come and help him out.  The man out of desperation immediately tried to create another “cave” and home under a nearby overturned boat. 

The “popo” finally did come.  The officers performed a hand bump with the person who was hauling away the boat.  And, the hauler continued taking the boat away.  The officers then confronted the boatman.  Not long after, the boatman was taken away with his black backpack and belongings left on the beach.  His boat, his “cave,” and his home were now gone. 

While in his cave, St. Francis learned not to judge others.  He could see the good in all things and in all people.  Even sister death became his friend. 

I wonder how the boatman was judged.  He did not fit in with the social norms.  Did he violate a law?  Did his presence create such great anxiety that someone needed to report him?  Did some social norm prohibit him from sleeping on the beach at night while others are allowed to sleep on the beach during the day?  And, who were this man’s real friends?  Was it the people who hauled away his boat or was it the wait staff who fed him daily and watched over him?

As we pray, “Father, forgive us our sins,” we need to remember the sins that are often committed in conforming to “the way things should be.”  Jesus was the person who broke all social norms and, yet, we do not consider him a sinner. 

Consider today how social norms, rules, and regulations, keep us from addressing similar injustices as witnessed in the plight of the “boatman and the cave.”   

Blessings and Prayers,

Fr. John

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