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Speaking to the Soul: To Be Known

Speaking to the Soul: To Be Known

by Sarah Brock

Today’s Readings for the Feast of St. Philip and St. James:

AM  Psalm 119:137-160; Job 23:1-12; John 1:43-51
PM  Psalm 139; Proverbs 4:7-18; John 12:20-26

Psalm 139


Almighty God, who gave to your apostles Philip and James grace and strength to bear witness to the truth: Grant that we, being mindful of their victory of faith, may glorify in life and death the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Lord, you have searched me out and known me;
          you know my sitting down and my rising up;
         you discern my thoughts from afar.

You trace my journeys and my resting-places
         and are acquainted with all my ways. 

Psalm 139:1-2


Friday evening through most of yesterday, I had the privilege of coming to know the resurrected Christ in the midst of the community of people who are homeless in Boston. I’m immensely grateful to the individuals who were willing to share their stories with me as part of the CityReach program. CityReach is an opportunity for young people to learn first hand about homelessness from people who are or have experienced it. We walked through the city at night with individuals who shared their stories and experiences of living without housing, prayed together, ate together, and offered hospitality, food, and clothing to unhoused guests.

While I heard many stories and began several new relationships over the course of these twenty or so hours, it’s the underlying desire of each of us to be known that is currently filling my heart and soul. The desire of each of us to be truly known to someone is not something I would previously have included on a list of basic human needs. But, I coming to understand how important this is for all of us.


Lord, you have searched me out and known me


One of the women I met who is currently unhoused, graciously answered my many questions about the depths of her life. Aside from discovering how much we have in common, I also began to understand just how important it is to be seen. Seen both in the sense of physically seeing and, also in a deeper sense of seeing our identities. She spoke about how living on the street changes you. Not because of what one must do to survive in the sense you may be imagining. But, because you are gradually forced to give up the things that make you you –  your home, your pets, your instrument, your friends – until you no longer have the things that once made up your identity.

She shared that she distinctly remembers when friends stopped inviting her over for coffee, joking that they were probably worried she would try to stay.

She told the story of waking up one morning to the feeling of her dog snuggled up behind her knees under the blankets. As she slowly awoke, gaining awareness of reality in the dark early morning hours, she realized it was actually a rat.

She reflected that your knowledge, your education, is one of the only things no one can take from you.

She shared photos of some of her paintings, many of which are portraits of other people  she’s met who are also experiencing homelessness. Speaking of how important it is to her that these people are seen. Revealing her hope that her artwork will hang in peoples’ homes and put faces to homelessness. That these portraits will help these individuals to be seen, to be known, to be remembered.

The time I spent with this woman, and all of the people I met, has deeply impacted who I am. After this experience, I will always read Psalm 139 through this new lens.


Lord, you have searched me out and known me;
          you know my sitting down and my rising up;
         you discern my thoughts from afar.

You trace my journeys and my resting-places
         and are acquainted with all my ways.


Sarah Brock is becoming a postulant in the Diocese of Massachusetts and lives in Boston.

Image Credit: By Kjp993 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia


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mitchell mcclain

I appreciate the church specifically Habitat for Humanity and their work, but the church could easily help end homeless in America if it was to distribute just half of all it resources. I kind of get angry at the church for being such hypocrites, if Christ came back ( and I don’t think he ever will) he would be disgusted at what little the church has done to help the poor.

David Allen

It takes a whole lot more than money to solve the homeless issue. There is so much more to being homeless than not having a place to live.

Kathy Franklin

Thank you for this reflection. Just today I was at a rally, and people came up to me and greeted me joyfully, and I made myself available to others, and enjoyed their friendly faces. That makes for a great day for everyone. Sharing and listening is good for everyone’s hearts.

Ann Fontaine

Thanks for this reflection. It is heartbreaking.

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