Monday, January 28, 2008

day by day

I was thinking about yesterday, just a day in the life of, well, me. I'm working on Step 11 of the 12, which is , "We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out". I'm working on the whole thing, but particularly the last half. What that looked like yesterday was going to a training seminar for a women's homeless shelter. I wasn't feeling well in the morning and needed to leave church to take a nap to have the strength to get through the afternoon. But still I knew I needed to go. The shelter is in an old Methodist church in a town about 15 miles from us. It is in the heart of the downtown. These beautiful churches circa the early 1900's are really dinosaurs when it comes to any sort of practical usefulness in the originally intended sense. The average church congregation is under 100 people. The pastor and his wife run the shelter out of the lower levels of the church, and even have their worship there, so the whole upper half full of pews, stained glass, the whole works, is not used. I wasn't sure I was in the right place-there were no signs clearly indicating the training location. My only clue was two rather unkempt women standing near a door at the side of the church, smoking in the freezing cold.

I found a seat-there were rows of hard, old fashioned oak chairs lined up too closely for large coats and elbow room. I felt uncertain, but filled out an index card with my pertinent information and took the photocopied hand-outs to my seat. The next three and a half hours consisted of healthcare workers explaining what we may run into as volunteers for the night shift with the women who use the shelter and a tour of the facility. Typically mental illness is involved, but the explanations and scenarios given of what we may encounter seemed rather daunting to a group of largely older women. Questions and answers broke the tension, a tv crew came in and I ran into a woman who I'd seen in our Saturday morning prison group. She's come full circle, from being an inmate, to homeless, to renewing dreams of school and family, to now wanting a volunteer position. I admit I was fearful, but running into this young woman reminded of where I've come from, a person who would never even dream of coming to a training like this, but here I am.

I pondered the past year, and years of my life. I think if my parents were alive, my mother in particular, and living in our town, she'd be sitting right next to me. I like the thought of that. I also thought, "But for the grace of God, I could be in one of the beds and not a volunteer chair". What will happen next, and why am I here? The one thing I can say is, it is never boring serving. I've come to see that real love needs a name and a face, and it's mine.


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