• June 21, 2012

Why Vienna? Who needs help there?

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.”

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