A couple of weeks ago, we gave you a glimpse of life on the streets. Truth is, the life that our women endure is much harsher than we are able to convey to you. That is why we now want to begin sharing with you our vision for a drop-in center by describing, room by room, what we will offer the women we serve. Let’s begin in the kitchen, the most important room of any house. A kitchen sustains life and fuels hope; it is both perfectly human and beautifully sacred. And the kitchen of our drop-in center will be a great blessing for women who are entirely too acquainted with hunger.
Although it must be fitted out as a commercial kitchen, we will make it as homey and inviting as possible, fitted out with pretty things—dishes, coffee mugs, curtains, and dish towels. Open the refrigerator and you will see only the freshest vegetables, fruit, milk, cheese, eggs, and meat, all waiting to be made into nutritious meals and snacks. The pantry will be stocked with tomato sauce, tuna, rice, pasta, and cereal. From the stove, the aroma of a hearty soup or spaghetti sauce will blend with the fragrance of bread or cookies or peach cobbler baking in the oven. Most important, the air will be filled with the sounds of lively conversation and laughter as our volunteers interact with women who have sought refuge at the center for the day.
After the meal, the dishwasher will hum and slosh as volunteers clean the counters and store the leftovers, while our guests move on to other activities. Contrast this scene of love, joy, and peace with what you know about the noise and danger of the streets.
Are you beginning to share our vision for the drop-in center? How much are you willing to pledge to make this vision a reality?
Will you pray with us that the God who fills the hungry with good things will provide for our women the benefit of a kitchen devoted to their needs?
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!
Calvary Episcopal Church
New DATE and TIME
Saturday, August 6th, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Are you ready to crumble? Please join the Lisieux Community and Thistle & Bee at this joint volunteer opportunity. We will be crumbling dried herbs harvested from our gardens and raising awareness for women who are survivors of trafficking & prostitution.
Please join us at Calvary Episcopal Church (102 N 2nd St, Memphis, TN 38103) in the Mural Room. Free parking is available in the lot on the East side of the building. We will start at 10:00 am and go no later than noon. A light brunch will be available.
Please let us know your are coming by emailing Madge Deacon or RSVPing on our Facebook event.
Some of the art work found in our Memphis house represents the journey the women in our program will take – from lost dreams to looking for something greater to being a person that others envy.
The piece above, called “reachin’ for something gr8er – reachin’ for a better day” was created by Memphis artist Frankd Robinson using “found objects.” The woman is looking at her heart which is in her hand. This is the work we do in our program: looking deep inside.
Photo by Taro Yamasaki.