Quotable

When I come home from work, I often find that I have little slips of paper stuffed into my pockets.  On these slips of paper, I have hurriedly written tidbits of wisdom from the ladies at Mary’s Place; pieces of conversation, parts of a prayer, a response to a situation or question.  I am continually floored by the strength and wisdom of these women.  They have been been stomped down, hidden in the alleys, been shuffled around, forgotten, they have suffered great tragedy…and yet, here they are.  They aren’t always stable, they aren’t always happy or cheerful, but they are here, willing to face a new day.  And that to me is simply amazing.  I am often blow away by their words, floored by their depth, the pain and strength that drips from their words.  The perseverance that shines through in short phrases.  The wisdom that still lies deep within them.

And so I want to start a new series.  One where I share these bits of power, these statements of awe.  Some are profound.  Some are simply silly.  But each one has found its way to a slip of paper in my pocket.

Taken from a prayer: “Lord, I invest all of me, knowing that IS a good investment.” ~Redrock

The willingness to invest all of one’s self, the good, the bad and the hidden parts of our self – it is a scary thing to do.  But when one can make that leap, that step of faith that putting themselves all out there is worth it, they are transformed.  Not instantly, not magically.  But inevitably transformed.    Redrock was accurate in saying that a full investment of self is a good investment.  It allows for forgiveness of self and of others, for change, and it allows for healing.

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Women in Black – a new record

Every time a homeless person is found dead outside or dies by violence in King County, WHEEL (a homeless women’s organizing effort) and the Church of Mary Magdalene (an ecumenical day ministry) mobilize for our silent witnessing vigil called Women in Black.

Today, we stand  in honor and memory of Timothy Koch, 50, who was run over by cars and killed on I-5 just north of I-90 as he attempted to cross the freeway on Saturday, August 15th.  He was a homeless person, and his last known address was a shelter in Tacoma. He is the second person to have been run over by cars near I-5/I-90 this summer while trying to cross the freeway within “The Jungle” greenbelt area.

It’s the FIFTH week in a row we’ll have stood vigil.

We have never had to stand with such frequency before in the whole 10-year history of the Women in Black vigils, and we are very worried.  In 2009 already at least 29 people have died outdoors or by violence in King County; many over this past summer in the State-owned greenbelt area known as “The Jungle.”  Two were murdered in “The Jungle” in a one-month period recently, and both murders are unsolved.

Women in Black are very concerned about all these deaths, the horrible causes of death (suicide, being run over by trains and cars, murder), and lack of available shelter.  Without shelter and loving community, people die.  This is exactly why Nickelsville and other day/night shelters are so desperately needed.

(Taken from the Women in Black press release)

Updating

I know that my blogging has been lacking lately.  I feel as though there is much to say, but just don’t have the energy to say it.  So, how about a bullet-point update instead?

  • I just read the most boring, drawn-out book EVER.  If you ever thought about reading Love in the Time of Cholera, let me save you the time.  DON’T!  I was actually rooting AGAINST the main characters, hoping that they wouldn’t find love.  It took me three weeks to read this book.  It never takes me three weeks to read a book.  The only reason that I read it to the end is because I was determined to finish, but it was seriously a waste of my time.   I could gripe on and on about this book, about how it is so obviously written by a man, and allows a lying, sleazy old man to get the girl (who should have followed through with her character and remained independent!)  Grrr.  Seriously disliked this book.
  • After finally finishing the world’s slowest moving book, I’ve moved on to Rachel and Her Children: Homeless Families in America. Started an hour before bed last night, and I’m already 50 pages deep.  This book is incredibly relevant to what I’m doing now at Mary’s Place.  I’m hoping that it will give a great perspective into the lives of homeless families, the different causes that lead to families becoming homeless, what leads mothers into places like Mary’s Place, etc.
  • Work is going well.   As time progresses I gain more responsibilities.  My official title is Urban Outreach, which mostly means that I work with families.  Unfortunately, we see a lot of families come through our center.  We are the ONLY walk-in day center that is open to women with children without a referral.  It is tragic to see so many families living in the cars and on the street.  It’s even harder to accept that there are so few shelters open to families, making it harder for them to get back on their feet.  I could probably spend a whole, long post on this topic, so maybe I will work on that.  Just wanted to update that work is going well, keeping me busy and is always a challenge.
  • I keep debating about addressing this health care reform issue on here.  I have so much to say, but I know that opening my blog up to talking about something so political is dangerous.  I haven’t fully decided if I’ll write/publish a full post yet, but I feel like this needs to be said.  The thing I have noticed the most, when it comes to opposition to reform, is the reason so many people (though of course not all) seem to have is not the reform itself, but their fear and opposition to President Obama.  I can’t help but notice the many status updates and “polls” on Facebook, and the majority of them speak little of the actual reform debate, but of their disdain for the President.  And that is so frustrating, because this is such an important topic, and I hate to see it overrun by personal opinions about one man, rather than the issue itself.  If people have valid arguments about the reform itself, I am happy to hear those, but opposing the reform because of the man behind it seems ludicrous to me.
  • I got a bike!  It is very exciting.  I’ve been talking for months about getting a bike, and I mentioned on Facebook that I was looking, and one of the board members from Mary’s Place messaged me saying she had an old bike I could have!!  The only thing I had to do to get the bike was come have dinner with her and her family.  Um, okay!  We had a wonderful dinner where everything minus the cheese and the chicken was direct from her garden.  Yummy!  The bike is a little older, and needs a little cleaning, but it’s great so far!  I took it out for a practice ride today, and it rides great.  I am still trying to figure out the gears, and good lord these hills may kill me, but I’m working on it.  My goal is to be able to ride to work fairly soon.  I’m not quite street worthy just yet, still a little wobbly, but I’ll get more stable the more I ride.
  • Wedding planning is going slowly but surely.  It seems that the details are much easier to plan than the larger, more necessary parts.  We have a photographer and know the kind of punch we want to serve at the reception, but we still don’t have things like, oh, a location.  Or a date.  You know, minor things.  🙂  We are planning for June 2010, and are looking at places in North Carolina, particularly in the Asheville area.  It is just so hard to plan from so far away.
  • I am enjoying being engaged, even though my fiance lives so stinkin’ far away!  I love that there are moments when the light catches my ring and it just makes me smile.  I am so incredibly lucky and cannot wait to be married!
  • I also want to give a shout out of congratulations to three dear friends who just had babies.  The saying is true that these thing come in threes!  So to Jon and Mechelle with their beautiful baby Anna; Jeff and Carrie and their sweet little Julianne (aka, Little J!); and Allison and Bryan and their handsome little H.  I am so excited for you all and can’t wait to meet the latest additions!

Women in Black

Every time a homeless person is found dead outside or dies by violence in King County, WHEEL (a homeless women’s organizing effort) and the Church of Mary Magdalene (an ecumenical day ministry) mobilize for our silent witnessing vigil called Women in Black.

Today, we stand  in honor and memory of Phil Carrasco, age 55, who died early Wednesday morning, August 5th, by suicide; he jumped from the 12th Avenue Bridge.  Phil had been homeless off and on for more than 15 years, and was beloved in the Lake City homeless and service provider communities.  He was a Real Change vendor and a veteran, and had spent time at the VA Hospital the week he died.  His is the SIXTH suicide of a homeless person in King County already this year.

At least 28 people have died outdoor/violent deaths in Seattle already this year.

(Taken from the Women in Black press release)

Up on the Roof with Carol

Remember when I mentioned the lady on the roof trying to raise money?  Well, almost two weeks later, Carol is still up on the roof, still raising money and sharing her heart for organizations that help women better themselves.  Her own organization, Fabric of Life, is a fantastic organization that has done amazing work with child beggars and street workers in Africa.  These women have learned new skills that allow them to be earners instead of beggars.  To have purpose rather than shame. 

On Tuesday, Pastor Marcia and I took two women from Mary’s Place out to Edmonds to meet with Carol on the Roof.  We took leftovers from a meal prepared at Mary’s Place – a special for the day, french toast and bacon, along with a mug of hot coffee.  We got to Edmonds and to the Fabric of Life store, and Barb, bless her heart, was the first to conquer her fear of heights and tackle that ladder.  Slick from the recent rain, Barb gripped the edges, as Carol extended her hand over the edge to help her with that last step.  With all four of us finally up on the roof, Carol welcomed us to her “home.”  An impressive set up with sleeping quarters, a table and even a bathroom! 

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We had a delightful visit with Carol.  She was so interested in hearing the stories of Barb and Cassie, who were both eager to share their unique stories of their journies through homelessness.  As Cassie and Barb shared, I noticed tears in Carol’s eyes.  She was so moved by their honesty and their determination.  Come spend 10 minutes with the women of Mary’s Place, you’ll be moved to tears as well. 

Cassie shared that one of the most difficult parts of being homeless was the way that people treat you as though you are invisible.  “On the street, people look right through you, if they look at you at all.  It makes you feel less than human.  Like a freak.”  Carol gasped, and said how one of the girls in her Fabric of Life program had said nearly the exact same thing, when talking about begging on the streets of Africa.  Around the world, women everywhere are faced with these feelings of failure, dejection and isolation.  But around the world, women everywhere, women like Carol, are working to make these women and children feel worthy and needed. 

We left the roof, Carol waving goodbye and encouraging us, “don’t look down!” as we made our way back down the ladder.  A shared experience.  The bringing together of different causes, different stories, different hearts.  Cassie and Barb both said how meaningful the experience was – to hear what Carol was doing, what the women in Africa were doing, to get out of Seattle and see what else is going on in this world.

We’re all in this together.  This growing and surviving and struggling and hoping.  Together we can make it.

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To read Carol’s take on our visit, check this out!

Women in Black

Every time a homeless person is found dead outside or dies by violence in King County, WHEEL (a homeless women’s organizing effort) and the Church of Mary Magdalene (an ecumenical day ministry) mobilize for our silent witnessing vigil called Women in Black.

Today, we stand  in honor and memory of:

Felicia Johnson, 23, who was found dead on the BNSF railroad tracks in Tukwila on June 26th.  The cause and manner of her death have not yet been determined.
Edward Isaiah Cook III, 64, who was found dead of natural causes at SW 100th and 15th SW on July 4th.

At least 27 people have died outdoor/violent deaths in Seattle already this year.

(Taken from the Women in Black press release)

Death

Have you ever encountered real fear?  Faced it head on?  I did yesterday.

It was in my face, screaming at me, calling me every name under the sun, damning me to hell.  This fear, in the eyes of a dying woman, jumped out at me more than her angry words.  Hurtful, hateful words slung at me not because of who I am or something that I had done, but because it the was the only reaction that the fear could grip onto.

The anger that lashed out is not who this woman is.  That anger should not be what defines her in her final days.  Though sadly, it may be what people end up remembering, only because it was so extreme.   But I got a good look in her eyes.  We were no more than a few feet apart, and while she screamed that she could look in my eyes and only see evil, I looked in her eyes and only saw a dying woman, shriveled up, destitute, hopeless, broken, frightened.

And I had to do one of the hardest things I’ve done.  I had to tell this old and dying woman, this woman who is scared because her life is painfully eluding her, that she had to leave.  It was heartbreaking, but necessary for her safety, and the safety of the others in the room.

As she left the grounds, screaming obscenities at anyone who passed by, my heart broke.  I have never seen fear rob someone of so much in such a short time.  She doesn’t have much time left on this earth – there is nothing that can be done to change this.  I can only pray and hope against hope, that in her final days, that she can die with peace, rather than in fear and anger.