By April Terry (personal blog http://faithwarming.blogspot.com)
My friend, Marcia, is a good listener. No, let me say that better. She’s a world-class listener. She doesn’t just listen to you, but she listens to you with a sparkle of excitement in her eyes. She listens with intent and purpose, all the while sending you a message that she sees you from the inside out. Seventy-three years of life have not lessened the sparkle in the eyes of this woman who was widowed a few years ago.
That’s how I found her when I met with her on Sunday afternoon. I found her sparkling and listening once again, but I hadn’t come there for my own edification, but rather to get her to talk. I needed to hear about her and what she’s been doing. I also needed to know how she does it.
Of course, Marcia will tell you that it’s just the people that God places there, but everywhere she goes, people are crossing her path. Lately, she’s been crossing paths with the “least of these,” as she put it. She’s been crossing paths with the homeless. I had come out Sunday afternoon to find out her secret about how she connects with so many people.
So, how does she connect? She starts by noticing. That’s how it started when she first noticed her new friend, a nineteen-year-old runaway escaping from a split family with drug problems on both sides and sexual abuse in her history, a girl who cuts herself to stop the pain inside her mind. She noticed the young girl walking down the boardwalk crying, so she stopped. She stopped and asked about the problem, only to find out that the girl was upset because her boyfriend had left her and taken her backpack with him. They lived in the river bed.
Then, she offered to take her for a meal. It was something she’s done a few times before. She would notice someone, ask if they were hungry, and rather than give them money would offer to take them for a meal. So, she asked her young friend, but the girl hesitated. “I’m not very clean,” she said.
“I don’t care,” Marcia said, and she and the girl found a place to sit down, eat a meal, and talk. That’s when the magic begins to happen. Everyone has a story and people are pretty open about telling their own no matter how dark. Marcia will ask a lot of questions that will lead you into your story, and no matter how ugly or messy, she makes you feel like you are safe to tell it. I imagine that’s what happened with this young runaway during that first lunch, but Marcia didn’t let it dwindle into a one-time thing. She grew it to more than one meal.
One day, Marcia asked her what she needed from her. “A relationship,” the girl said, and she went on to explain that most homeless don’t trust anyone and that a relationship is something that’s difficult to find. She cherished her newfound friendship with Marcia.
That doesn’t mean that my friend, Marcia, is a pushover. She tells her young friend the truth when things come up, and she talks about her faith with her as well. “You’re pretty tough, aren’t you?” she asked one day.
“Yes,” Marcia replied, “Is that okay?”
“Yes, I think it’s what I need,” she replied.
This is how relationships start, but there is some risk involved. We talked about the risk because right now Marcia’s friend is missing. She hasn’t been able to get in touch with her for nearly a week, and she is worried about her. She was just about to start a bible study with the young girl on a regular basis and the two had planned to go to church together, but she disappeared. That’s the cost of risk, but we never really learn the power of our God until we take that risk. As Marcia says, “You can’t know that God will catch you until you step off the ledge.” (to be continued)
April 23rd, 2012 · 3 Comments
Categories: DE Thoughts