The top three ways God has shown His love to me in the past two weeks:
3. We’ve been drinking fresh limeade (my fav) EVERY DAY!
2. My girls seem to have finally adjusted to being in my care & authority and have been the closest to angelic that I’ve ever seen them.
1. My very best friend in the world came to visit me IN MEXICO!
Claire’s visit was much needed by me and very much enjoyed by the girls. One day as she approached me, various children of mine clinging to and dangling from her limbs, she remarked, “I feel like I’ve become their new favorite playground.” Haha, totally. Also, words of affirmation is a very strong love language of my nenas, and they liked to say things like “Claire is our best Mom” and “Claire is the prettiest one here!” and even.. “now that Claire’s here nobody wants Brita to take care of us anymore.” I just have to say that the last one was intended to hurt me.. payback for a few red stars. It happens. = )
My best good friend (said with a Forest Gump accent, of course) brought me (in addition to laughter, new flip-flops, advice, someone to pray with, REESES, so much joy, that priceless feeling of knowing and being known = ), and a skirt from her South Africa adventure called a ‘schway-schway’ ) a newsletter from a Catholic Worker, filled with many beautiful writings by some of her beautiful friends in Chi-town. One of those writings was a reflection on hospitality, which has been stuck with me since. In it the author described how a very pregnant woman had shown up at their door several months before, having somehow heard that she would find shelter at that address, but without realizing the shelter their home offers to those in need is simply a spare room in their home, free of any charge, free of any red tape, purely.. hospitality. Hospitality inspired by the teachings of Christ, modeled by Dorothy Day, and now lived out by a group of people striving to be their true authentic selves and “trust in the common thread of humanity.” I’ve been in that home; I’ve sat in it’s soft couch in it’s cozy living room, and it’s easy for me to imagine the gratitude and wonder that would be filling that woman’s face as she received a warm cup of tea and the love of some radical Christians.
Or are they so radical? My favorite part of the writing questions what would happen if we allowed hospitality to transform us all, “what if everyone I knew had an extra room?” What if.. everyone that does have an extra room were to open it up to someone else who needs it? What if we tried “to not let fear dictate our reality”?
When I applied these questions to the lives of my little girls I realized that my presence here would not be necessary. Six months ago I would not have been okay with that, but my time in Tijuana joined with the past few months here have taught me truly how much better it is for children to be in a family rather than an institution, and have also helped me to cleanse away my selfish motivations for doing this work. What is left is my desire to please God, and I’ve learned that in order to best do that I need to be doing what is “in the best interest of the child.” (words pounded into my mind by my Social Worker teachers in Tijuana.. = ) Ik eindelijk begrijpen, mooi een)
Maria sits at my feet, playing Disney Princess bingo alone because she would rather sit with me and sing softly to herself than be surrounded by thirty other girls. Understandable. It isn’t safe for her to be in her own home but what if she could be with a family right now? What if the woman she called Mami had enough time to read books with her everyday, and could teach her to make flan and then sit with her to eat it and process through her day. What if she could learn by example of what a healthy marriage and a loving father are like? There are plenty of families that could provide that for her in this city. What if that were a legal option?
In the States, it IS. What if every Christian family answered Christ’s call to take care of the widow and the orphan in their distress? What if every foster home were a place of safety and joy, healing and restoration? Those children-OUR children-HIS CHILDREN-would be so blessed. And what if it didn’t stop there? What if we as well came alongside their true families to bring about complete restoration? Maybe that’s too much to imagine. But maybe it’s not.
My girls are asleep now, six of them in one little room, in their underwear because it’s so hot and on the floor because for some reason they don’t like to sleep in beds. I wish I could give them so much more. I wish I were married, much more for their sake than my own. They need a dad. I wish I knew how to better make each of them feel unique without making all of them feel jealous. I wish I could, I wish I could, I wish I could…
What if we understood that all of us can have a part in opening our hearts and minds and houses to those in need. What if each of my girls, and each and every orphan, could be blessed with their own Catholic Worker, or an equally hospitable home? But that’s the thing, isn’t it. They could be.
“6 I’ll tell you what it really means to worship the LORD. Remove the chains of prisoners who are chained unjustly. Free those who are abused! 7 Share your food with everyone who is hungry; share your home with the poor and homeless. Give clothes to those in need; and (NIV) not to turn away from your own flesh and blood.”
Isaiah 58:6-7 (CEV)