I was surprised last year when I heard this statement from Father Greg Boyle, Founder of Homeboy Industries and author of Tattoos on the Heart, at the HopeWorks breakfast, A Moment of Hope. I had to think about it. But I didn’t really understand until yesterday. I was with a young woman wanting to leave the life on the streets. It seemed that everywhere she went, the man who had been using her and selling her kept showing up. With tears, she asked how he kept finding her. How do you escape that? I helped get her to a safe place.
As I went back to my day, doing ordinary things, I was surprised to find that I was on the verge of tears. What was that about?
I’ve accompanied women through this journey, sitting with them as they cried. I’ve taken them places I would never have gone in the past. I’ve heard stories that were difficult to hear about their childhood, their families, the abuse they’ve endured. I’ve seen the lack of trust they carry because no one in their lives have been trustworthy. I know about the physical problems that many endure because of lack of medical care.
I’ve never found myself on the verge of tears as I went through my day. I sat with my tears, trying to understand what was different this time. As I remembered the terror this young woman displayed because she thought she was not physically safe anywhere she went, I realized that I also felt unsafe and experienced that fear. The vulnerability I felt physically. And the barely controlled surge of tears. And I remembered what Father Greg Boyle said:
“How can we seek really a compassion that can stand in awe at what people have to carry rather than stand in judgment at how they carry it.” It is a goal to work for!