Sitting and talking with Jane in her colorful crocheted hat and red jacket felt like any everyday conversation. You wouldn’t know that behind her glasses and New York accent that she was a tornado victim with a mental disability.
More unexpectedly, you wouldn’t imagine that she was teacher with her masters in education and once an elementary school teacher. However, here she and I sat at the Journey Home this evening after my BCM family served her and several others a meal. Jane was unemployed and a little down on her luck, something she wasn’t afraid to share with total strangers.
The Journey Home, the facility where Jane and I sat and bantered, is a safe haven where the homeless or people just down on their luck come to find food and love. They serve meals regularly throughout the week, and this Monday the BCM decided to offer dinner for anyone who needed it.
When I walked into the building tonight with the rest of my group, I didn’t know what to expect. Sometimes, I don’t feel like being a people person, and today was one of those days. I wanted to serve, but I was tired and it had been a long Monday. So, I offered to serve the food instead of talk to people.
God surprised me, though. I thought I had gotten out of talking with people until we ran out of people to serve. I took off my clear serving gloves and threw them in the trash. That’s where I saw Jane talking to one of my friends. Her mouth was going a mile a minute, and she intrigued me.
Michael, the man in charge, urged us to go and sit with the people who were eating while they finished their meal. I was hesitant. I was not in the right mindset to deal with people today especially people who I thought were sad and depressed.
So, I sat down in a green plastic chair and introduced myself to the woman across from me. She was friendly and had a smile on her face. Her smile surprised me most of all. I was not anticipating it at all.
I caught her in the middle of her story, but I remained quiet and listened attentively. She had just reached the part about her backpacking all over the country. I thought to myself, “Wow, she’s backpacked all over the country?” My curious nature always wants to know how people are in down-trodden situations. So I sat, waiting, hoping to find my answer.
She concluded by telling my friend and I that her house was torn to splinters a few years ago in the Good Friday tornadoes. Her house may have been almost rebuilt, but her spirit and mind weren’t. Despite her smile, her tragedy left with her with a disability and hard times.
I left the Journey Home with a great realization. Not everyone who are in terrible situations are sad. Lord knows I would be sad, depressed and irritable if I had to deal with the life hurdles Jane did. However, she kept her chin high and was open to telling her story and testimony.
Everyone has a story and sometimes it’s only a matter of sharing. More importantly, it’s only a matter of someone to listen to you. I am thankful and humbled by her story. She gave me a gift. I may have given her something to eat, but she gave me the gift hope and renewed light in this world. A light that isn’t so easily blown out.