Most of us are aware that the Rotating Homeless Men’s Shelter is an interfaith project. As an overflow shelter to the Ozanam Shelter on Abeel Street during the winter months, it is hosted by congregation from a variety of faith traditions. Each has the shelter for two weeks per season.
But did you also know that the Shelter brings out our diversity already here at home? One evening, I found myself with Ming Man, Tomas, Nicola and Lolly staffing the front desk – see the picture that Lolly took that night. Ming Man is an undergraduate Rutgers student from Hong Kong; Tomas is a Rutgers PhD student from the Czech Republic, Nicola is a graduate Rutgers student born in South Africa, Lolly spent years in Japan, and I come from Germany.
We had a wonderful time together. But more than that: It is a feature of our church that we regularly enjoy the togetherness of many cultures. Several of us are from different parts of the world, and, like many others in our congregation, we find it meaningful when different traditions, perceptions and opinions come together. Using a term from a particular school of philosophical thought, I call this our world-openness. It is something to cherish, because we are all the richer for it. It’s a microcosm of our world as God may have intended it.
I am aware, however, that my enthusiasm is somewhat luxurious and removed from the daily hardship of our shelter guests. But even so, I am grateful that, even here at the shelter, God allows fellowship and other good things to happen.