dinner with Jesus
rang bells in my soul
We had Jesus over for dinner last night.
No, not THE Jesus but Jesús.
Jesús is 21 years old and lives with his Mom and Step-Dad in the apartment across the hall.
His name brings to mind how to tease my Dad, my brother Pete would say that EYE-VAN DE JESUS was the shortsop for the Chicago Cubs instead of EVONNE de HEY SUESS.
His name WAS spelled Iván De Jesús but I digress.
Jesús has his own at-your-home car detailing business and was working on a car in the parking lot while I was changing a tire.
I had neglected to put the parking break on so when the car slipped off the jack and crashed to the pavement, Jesús came over to say, “That’s not good.”
We got the car back on the jack and we changed the tire and I asked if he had plans for supper?
When he said no I invited him over to share our Saturday night hotdogs, crab cakes (welcome to the low country) and fries and he was happy to accept.
Jesús and his family were living here when we moved and have always been friendly as well as intriguing.
They had told us that they were from Venezula and that they had been in the United States for about 2 years.
But that was about all we knew.
Then by chance we were looking at the website for a local church and Jesús was listed as the church’s Spanish Pastor.
Like I said, intriguing.
Jesús came over and I set out the hot dogs, crab cakes and fries.
Ellington came and ate with us as well.
And we talked.
And we learned about Jesús.
We learned that Jesús and his mother where in the United States on refugee status.
Jesús and his mother could not leave the US as their passports had been canceled by the Government of Venezula.
Jesús was a little unsure of their future status in the United States in particular and their future in general but he refused to worry about it.
Jesús told how at one time Venezula had been one of the richest countries in South America.
Now it was one of the most corrupt and most poor.
People in Venezuela DO live in fear of the government.
My wife Leslie asked about social programs for feeding the poor or providing employment.
Jesús responded “They don’t care.”
He told how there were curfews in place and people were allowed out their homes from 7AM to Noon.
I asked if people were allowed to be out during the curfew to get to work.
Jesús said there is no work, there are few jobs.
Leslie asked how families without money or jobs and just a few hours to be out could get food and what was the government doing about it.
Jesús responded “They don’t care.”
Then Jesús said that he felt the people there were maybe more hopeful than the people he met in the United States.
Jesús said truly the people there have no hope for the future, let alone a better future.
Jesús said that the people there, the people he knew and grew up with, tried to make it through the each day.
Jesús said that the people there were happy in the fact that each day was one more day to be happy.
Jesús added that there the people there had none of the concerns or worries about getting the things that he felt most Americans were concerned with.
It was a simple understated, stating of the facts as Jesús saw them.
NOW please understand.
This was not an expert talking on CNN or a news program.
This was not someone writing an OP ED piece for the New York Times.
This was casual conversation over hot dogs and fries on a Saturday Night on a kitchen table in Bluffton, South Carolina.
Jesús was not trying to impress, shock or overwhelm us with pathos of his story.
Jesús was just talking.
Jesus told a simple tale in his slightly accented English that rang bells in my soul.
I felt a lot of emotions as I listened.
Mostly I felt ashamed.
To see the United States from someone else’s perspective.
To understand that people here do have an INCREDIBLE amount of freedom.
With that freedom comes a lot of responsibility.
And what do we do with this?
Squander the freedom.
Spurn the responsibility.
We hear a lot of the phrase, “This is NOT who we are.”
Sorry to disagree.
This is JUST who we are.
Living now in the low country of South Carolina, we had Jesús over for dinner last night.
Just one more impossible thing to add the list of what has happened to us here.