The season of Happy Hour has reached New York – most people want to see flowers bloom, and inhibitions made extinct with the help of liquor. How popular the combination – a beer garden – has become! I still want to slouch inside the safety of Brandon’s sweater (seen above), but I’m out of sync with the times. Sunglasses adorn heads, bras peek out from underneath shirts made thin on purpose, and crowds gather around kegs. I cannot help but notice this, and feel the tug of “Let Loose” at my ankles. The apostle Paul frequently wrote of the battle between spirit and flesh, so I feel good about admitting that from time to time I glance up from reading the Bible on subway rides home and wonder if a gin and tonic wouldn’t make me feel better. I’m not even sure if I like gin. I’m not sure what would make me feel better. But I am confident that those thin, bra-baring shirts look terrible on me, and equally confident that turning to anything other than the Word is utterly useless in the end.
Before spring sprung, it was winter. And last winter, on one particular cold, but sunny day I visited a homeless shelter with a group of colleagues from my place of work. It was an event meant to bring meaning to the generous giving of our donors – here is what your hard work and sacrifice has made possible. The privileged and the underprivileged, working together for a few short hours of craft-making. Jesus would be proud. It is the type of thing I wake up eager to do on Saturday. But when we arrived, I was ashamed at how uncomfortable I felt. The wealthy donors looked relaxed. I couldn’t stop looking for rats. I saw three, you know.
A group of children – homeless children – began gathering outside of the door. They were so eager to start making crafts. The smallest of the group, who was the boldest, let her foot cross the imaginary line we told them they had to stay behind until we were ready. “What’s your name?” my colleague asked. The little girl grew the tiniest bit shy, and began to make a cat’s meow type of noise. Us girls looked at each other, giggling at how cute she was. “Meow,” she said again.
“Are you a kitten?” my colleague pressed. “I hear a little kitten!”
The girl stopped. And she looked at her. And she stopped moving and matter of factly said, “I’m not a kitten. I’m an orphan.”
No one said a word. I grabbed my sweater and left to go find a bathroom, but I thought I saw a mouse and just decided to tighten my bladder because I really didn’t have to pee anyway, I just wanted a safe place to go cry. An orphan. An orphan!
A homeless orphan. – Give her to me God. I will be her mother.
We now leave that winter day and that very, very true story and we return to the present – which currently involves us housing someone who did not have a home. I want to choose my words carefully because I know she will read this.
Her mother is a wonderful woman who is being healed of a lifetime of illness. It is an illness that prevented her from being a mother, and this person’s life was the result of that up until God found her. We stood in the kitchen a few weeks back making pulled pork, listening to James Brown. I passed her the salt and told her to season it. She had no flair for seasoning, and more like, poured salt on everything. And I laughed and yelled and told her that was terrible. And I firmly held her hand, and we seasoned the rest of the meat together. She sat down and I went through herbs and showed her cooking techniques that I totally made up. – Give her to me God. I will be her mother until her mother is ready to take over again.
She is leaving us next week, and I am happy. Happy for her that she is growing up and moving on. Happy that I can walk around naked, and so can Brandon.
But good Lord, have I been punched in the (spiritual) face over this. Although I often say I am ready to be used in righteous missions, I have discovered that I am usually only ready when it’s convenient for me. Getting a call when you have (literally!) just returned from your honeymoon and being asked to share your space with someone who doesn’t have a space is not convenient – it is so inconvenient – it is an interruption.
And I hate to be interrupted. HATE.
This is why I schedule calls with my seven best friends, instead of letting them happen organically. This is why I have the gym schedule mounted to a cabinet with little magnets. This is why I scour the internet for recipes, calculate how much time they will take – thank you Pioneer Woman for keeping yours short; our sex life is amazing, in part because of your ability to make meals that Southern men love – and then schedule what time I will cook.
Even my faith has been tested. Do we have enough to buy groceries for three? What if? What if? What if? – But I thought God was your source?
Me! Me! Me! –And so, to this person, this lovely house guest, I want to say thank you. Thank you for interrupting what I thought the first two months of marriage would be like. You have by no means been a burden, but even when you are not there the smell of your hair gel has reminded me that we are sharing, and that is a great thing.Y It has reminded me to pray for others as much as I pray for myself. It has reminded me not to buy the gin, because honestly, I can’t imagine the look on your face if you saw me standing in my underwear drinking away stress. It has reminded me that although I have been whining and complaining quite a bit lately, that I am not completely hopeless. It has reminded me that I need to grow in so many areas.
I always say I’ll continue and I never do. So this is not to be continued. Only carried on.