Today, I had a meeting at a discreet location in a women’s shelter. There was no sign and the house was off the road down a long driveway. Blink and you would miss the driveway and the house couldn’t be seen from the road. The meeting was one of our county’s Community Action Board which is made up of several organizations who partner together to reach as many families in need and/or in crisis as possible.
The leader of the house was a nice woman who talked softly but her love for the women in the house was obvious. The women who are enrolled there are from all backgrounds, religions, and nationalities. Some have experienced abuse at the hands of others and some abused themselves. Under the roof of this home, however, all were welcomed, loved and given the skills to start life anew with a sense of belonging and purpose.
Written on a huge dry erase board were the rules of the house, encouragement and motivational sayings, practical applications of the lessons being taught to those who stayed in the home. On one board, almost in the middle was the name of the leader and one of the tenants wrote; “She rocks!” I thought this was awesome. Here is a woman who has given her life to helping those in need. It did not go unappreciated.
I hope each of us can find a place where we can offer love, kindness, time, patience and give worth to those whom life has overlooked or discarded.
This morning, while getting ready for worship, I thought of an elderly woman I used to attend church with who had some unspoken rules she followed when it came to “going to God’s house.” Two that I remember were; “No candy and women always wear dresses.” I thought they were silly rules but the woman and I had a special relationship so it didn’t really matter.
As she got older she developed breathing problems and dry mouth occurred as a result. It was then that her rule about no candy was broken so she wouldn’t cough during services. I also remember a Sunday when I called her and she told me about a rash that was covering portions of her body and all the dresses she tried on were uncomfortable. I asked the simple question; “Couldn’t you wear pants?” There was silence on the other end for a while and then a soft voice replied; “I hadn’t even thought of that.” It was after this phone call her no pants rule was broken, though still not very often.
The more rules and regulations we have the less peace. We can wear ourselves, and others, out by placing burdens of expectations on our collective shoulders. The joy we could know by living simply becomes complicated when we slap our paradigms of how things should be in different facets of life. Trusting and letting go, allowing the journey of life to unfold before us unforced and naturally, will lead us to peace of mind, body, spirit, and freedom.