Give us the grace to feed the hungry

To my great surprise, when I was 40, I acquired two teenage foster sons, brothers whose mother suffered severe depression. I had moved from the large emergency shelter at the Catholic Worker to a four-flat in need of significant rehab. A couple of women from the community came with me and I made a place for Paul, 15, when he got out of the hospital. His 13-year-old brother moved in right behind him.

We were so busy then. We were up to our elbows in need. I'd known the boys for four years. Their family was one of the first to come to Karen House. It didn't seem any more out of the ordinary for them to move in with me than for them to have lived for months at a time on the street.

I tell this because I am so grateful for Elijah and Paul. I went to Elijah's daughter's high school graduation last May. It knocks my socks off.

I'm grateful to their mother, Helen, for letting her boys leave her. I'm grateful to the child abuse supervisor who said she would not pursue the case as long as the boys stayed with me. I'm grateful to Elijah and Paul for choosing me.

I started this small essay thinking about Thanksgiving and what to write. I thought about the grace I always say before meals: Gracious God, we are grateful for this food. We are grateful to the farmworkers who harvested it. We ask for the grace to feed the hungry.

That's the grace Elijah says. I was so surprised when I heard him at his own table. This Thanksgiving week of feasting, I pray it for all of us in the national Catholic community of readers, writers and everybody who actually gets our words out to you: Gracious God, give us the grace to feed the hungry.

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