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I just got home from the the start of
the third day in our week as Shelter hosts. My orientation has shifted slightly, to place the beginning of the activities for a "day" to be the preparations that
begin at 5:30 pm in order to open the shelter doors by 8 pm. Then it is intake,
dinner, a smoke break for our guests that smoke, sleep, awake at 6 am,
breakfast and then the shelter empties out at 7 am.
Tonight felt somehow like an "all
about getting to know you" day. Our population tonight is 90 and many have been
our guests all week so we are now becoming aware of each other. I have watched
and felt our volunteers open their hearts and smiles and allow Love to flow
through them in a great, powerful yet peaceful rush. The idea of "guest" as the
proper form of address in an intellectual way has shattered and in its place,
honored guest has become real and experienced and felt.
I have noticed that as I get to
know "you", in this case one of our guests, I get to know me; to know
what I think and feel and to know that we are both expressions of the One life--for real. The artificial line we/I draw between you and me grows
less pronounced, less and visible, replaced with the gentle connection that
comes from knowing we are in this experience called life together.
Tonight I had the great honor of being
pastor as I listened to our guests at the dinner tables. I am reminded
Friendship has an easy beginning. I say, "Hello, I'm Ric. May I join you?" From
some, no response and that is okay. "I hope you enjoy your meal," I share and
honor the unspoken request for privacy. From most though, "Sure, please do..."
Adam was able to get his warrant dealt
with so he is not always wondering if/when will he get arrested when he sees a
police officer. He seems more relaxed and at ease today.
This is the last night in the shelter
for Donna and Regan; a sweet couple who have been together for 6 years, Donna
says that Regan saved her life by giving her CPR after she had a heart attack a
few years ago. We shared heart attack stories and talked about how energy is
underlying everything that is and is yet to be. Regan has gotten a job, house
sitting for a investor who is buying foreclosures and flipping them back for
resale. The couple get a place to stay and some work to do, painting and
repairing the house while keeping the plumbing & wiring intact from
vandals. The love that flows between them is palpable and refreshing.
Brian is a quiet, serious young man,
who reads what ever news paper or magazine is near him. He reminds me a little
of myself, inquisitive hungry to learn.
I wonder if Sue is in the hospital
tonight. She was nursing a wound on her leg yesterday and mentioned that she
thought she would go the the ER to have it looked at and dressed.
David tells me about a man who really
cares called Pastor Bob and who runs a ministry working with folks on the
Miss Alice is in a quiet mood tonight.
She is feeling good and loved the potato with ham soup. She is looking forward
to getting some sleep.
Kevin brought me a beautiful prayer of
blessing from a pamphlet and thanks us for being here. When I thanked him for
being with us, he asked what did I mean by saying thank you. I explained that I
was grateful that he and our other guests were here, with us because it was
allowing the beautiful heart of our congregation to open wide.
No, I am not overly romanticizing this
experience. I am aware of the several who are drunk or very buzzed and nod
politely as I pass by and who just want to to enjoy their current state and get
to bed and pass out.
I am smiling inside as all around the
room I I watch as members of our church and 90 people who call the streets home,
share a meal, friendship and a space for a few days. Through it all, Love grows
larger and larger making Itself felt and known.
In the New Testament, Jesus calls us to, "Love one another as I have loved you." We are learning how and it is awesome beyond my
The journey continues ...
Copyright (c) 2012 by Richard L. Beattie, all rights are reserved.