Be careful what you wish for. I was blessed to have BOTH Wendy and Eric to walk the street to the shelter this morning at 5:30. I think I’m going to go a little earlier and wait in my car for one of them to walk with in the future. I felt far less anxious with them by my side. Wendy’s love is amazing. She lights up like sunshine and stares fear in the face. She politely smiled and wished a good morning to people we walked past. So different from my stiff avoidance. My fear intensifies when someone looks at me.
“Well, this is my home. These are my people.” She told me later. “I have a purpose here and it’s not jes ta work.”
“I see that. I watch you.” I acknowledged that her position on the front lines of this battlefield is clearly ordered by a higher calling. Her faithfulness to her post convicts me to the core.
The entire staff shows this grit. They are like warriors with years of experience, standing watch and reaching out to those who truly want what they have. But they have the wisdom to know who is manipulating them, too. There are no pearls being thrown for trampling.
Tucked next to Wendy throughout the day are her weapons: a well worn Bible, a Big Book with a crumpled dust jacket and a Daily Bread. She slips me a little baggie of instant coffee and gives me a cup of hot water. I praise Jesus for my own weapon of choice.
So much of my midwifery training comes in handy here. Coffee has empowered many a midwife to push through the long nights of sweaty hurrying up and waiting.
While taking the laundry across the courtyard today, a gruff, chubby man hollared at me, “You a hard workin woman! You got a hard workin man?”
“No.” And then, with a quick second thought, I added, “Do they make those?”
On my way back, he prodded more deeply, “You lookin for a hard workin man?”
I held back my knee jerk reaction to say that, yes, I am, but that he was clearly not that man. Instead I laughed and told him, “No sir. I’m looking OUT for my children right now.”
He nodded approvingly. “Thas a good woman right there. Well you let me know if you ever back on tha market.”
I will give this culture one thing. It is a direct one. You know what you’re dealing with. It’s on the surface and in your face. Sometimes more than you know what to do with.
I prefer this to the backbiting, secret, whispering slander that my case was spawned in. I’ll gladly spend a day on Skid Row with it’s abrupt, angry, misfits of society. I’ll happily embrace it’s in your face people standing alongside the staff heroes that shine like brilliant, strong giants of experience. I’ll spend a lifetime here over a day being slandered by my sisters in birth ANY day.
A man with an accent that tickles my ear with a hint of Bangalore is singing Milli Vanilli while a man with turretts belts out his ticks and a transvestite brushes his hair. The absurd nature is overshadowed by the pain of a movement of healers who stab each other to get ahead. The insanity is far less dangerous here.