It was a happy occassion at a gathering of Healing House Women last night, and I watched and listened as women talked about how something mysterious had happened to them while they lived there. Some of them were new to the place, while two others had lived there for more than a year, and were “going home.” These moments are gold to me, and I carry love away from that place every time this happens. Even the gut wrenching pain and ugly realities shared are held in a container of love, something I’ve rarely found elsewhere. That’s why I go back; to share it, bear witness to it, and wear it as long as the remnants stay. The women there think I go just to support them; they really have no idea what they give to me.
Normally, I come right home, especially now, because it’s dark when I leave and not exactly in the friendliest part of town. I don’t live in fear, but I’m not naive’ about what comes out at night. For some reason, I decided to get gas in my car, and go to a station that I really don’t patronize. I got out of my car to begin pumping the gas and an elderly woman approached me, asking for money. Panhandlers abound in this part of town, but something about her approach felt different, so I stopped what I was doing and let her approach.
“Ma’am, I don’t have any money, and I was going to…”, she said as I interrupted her because tears were streaming down her face.
“What do you need?”, I asked.
“I want to buy some bread and lunch meat. I just moved here from Kansas and I don’t know anybody. I don’t know what to do, or where to go.”
She was backing up now, afraid that she had gotten too close.
“Just a moment, ” I said and opened the car door, and my purse, and retrieved the few loose dollars I had there. I gave them to her, and she began sob, then took a long breath, and let it out. She hugged me, twice, and kissed my neck.
“Thank you so much. I knew he would. He provides.” And then she pulled a medal out from under her shirt that said,
“Trust in the Lord your God.”
I don’t remember what I said to her after that, because I was speechless. Her faith and vulnerability moved me to almost awe. I wanted to bow, but I just stood there as she walked away, into the night, with her empty plastic bag. She crossed the street alone, but I could feel her gait was now certain, and I said a prayer of thanks. I may never see her again, but that’s how every angel has touched me. In the guise of a human, carrying a message I needed to hear, even though they were asking for help.
Many things are opening and moving in my life, after a long season of waiting. Yesterday, I felt a momentum build like a fever pitch, and it threatened my balance. I almost forgot that the good that has come into my life is not the result of my effort alone, not by a long shot. I receive by Grace, and I bow to that; perhaps that’s why I didn’t bow to her. She would have had none of that. All she wanted was a loaf of bread, and some meat.
When I relax in love and trust God, good comes to me. It’s a beautiful life, when I remember that, and hold it sacred.