Feeding the Hungry At the Arizona Mexican Border

By on October 26, 2011

Sisters of Mercy•October 19, 2011 • Leave a Comment

“…Oh the Sisters of mercy


They have not departed or gone…” Leonard Cohen, songwriter/poet


Last week I saw one of the comedor nuns lean out of the door and hand a plate piled high with beans and rice, vegetables and tortillas, and a huge glass of milk to “burn man”, a homeless Mexican man severely burned a few months ago with battery acid. (see my first posting for this story) He sits down on the curb and eats every crumb. Leonard Cohen’s song from the 60′s once again runs through my mind. These women are the Sisters of Mercy. Their presence lights up this very humble shelter. I don’t notice the ripped tarp on the walls, the discarded plastic bottles in the street, or the infamous huge monolithic “Wall” separating Mexico from the USA. I just see their smiles and their brightly flowered aprons.

….They were waiting for me, when I thought that I just can’t go on….” Leonard Cohen

“Burn man” gratefully accepts the food. He is mentally ill, I’m told, and can be disruptive and aggressive. For reasons I don’t understand, he has been temporarily barred from the comedor, the dining area. Rules are rules. Burn man is a survivor and lives on the street, sleeping in the cemetery. He is not a migrant, but lives in Nogales, Sonora, and is a victim of thugs and evil. Today he wears two pairs of pants tied around his waist with rope and a filthy jacket. When he sees our group he approaches, asking for money for a Coke. And then one of the Sisters appears with a big glass of milk. And that steaming plate of food.

Let me say something here. I did not think this man would survive a few weeks ago. His burns covered his back, and he walked around with a cloud of insects and flies following him. You could smell the infection. Nurse Norma, the Mexican RN at the clinica, has been cleaning this man’s wounds and applying clean dressings several times during the week. She and her medic assistant, Jacobo, have been disciplined and loving in their care of this man. Today his back is healing, and there is no infection. And the Sisters of Mercy feed him two meals a day. It is a miracle.

Welcome to America….and our wall

And “ burn man” trusts us. Well, trusts us enough to ask for money for a Coke and cigarettes. And a clean blue shirt, his favorite color. I rummage through the pile of clothes and find an almost new Patagonia shirt. We all smile as we see “burn man” put on this symbol of the yuppie trekker. Fits him perfectly too.

I have to grin when I think of the poetic justice of “burn man” sporting a Patagonia shirt.

                                                                                             Last Supper, Mexican style

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