By Marylouise McGraw, Former Volunteer in Austria
“Eighteen months ago, upon boarding the plane, my mind raced with questions I had heard so many times when describing to others what I was leaving to do—“Vienna? Why Vienna? But what kind of poverty and suffering is there? Who needs help there? What will Heart’s Home do there?”
The questions found their counterparts with physical images of poverty-bloated bellies and bones covered with thin skin and ragged clothing—“poor ones” to whom I yearned to give some of my heart-wealth and who I thought only lived in particular parts of the world in particular living situations. But then that plane landed and as God’s adventure unfolded, in the midst of so many awe-inspiring experiences, friendships, treasures, and answers I came to discover the deepest and most transformative truth—I myself was one of the poorest. I needed Heart’s Home in Vienna to show me my poverty and share with me what it means to be human, to love and to be loved. I—with a poverty-bloated belly and ragged clothes covering my frail bones didn’t know how big my hunger was. I didn’t know how much of a beggar I was. I didn’t know how painful my thirst was. Then, through the open hearts of those we would meet, I began to discover the depths of my humanity. I discovered my thirst to be understood and accepted. And packed in this humble discovery is the heart of my presence, Heart’s Home’s presence in Vienna. Not to stand on the edge, on the outside and minister or organize or problem-solve, but to be invited inside, to embrace, to follow, and to, in spite of at times excruciating pain, be united in the humbling poverty and awesome dignity of our humanity.
What is this poverty that unites? It is an insecurity—not the insecurity of losing a job, not having enough to eat, or not having the possibility to go to school. Instead, it is an insecurity that could easily lead to madness. It is the insecurity of our deepest human need. It is the insecurity that continually screams out, “Please! Love me!” and the insecurity of waiting for a response. In this insecurity, I, along with those with whom I have found myself united in this poverty, have the opportunity to truly experience for the first time the dignity of the human person—a dignity grounded in a hope that has already been fulfilled by an eternal response—“Yes! I love you!” The fulfillment of hope found in the never-ceasing and ever-consoling presence of Love Himself.”