Friday, November 14, 2008

the turn of a phrase

It's that time of year again and the last carousel ride for me. The winter season always makes me a bit hopeful, the programs we aren't able to run in warmer months open in full force in a few weeks. Knowing almost twice as many people will be safe and warm soon fills me with an excitement I can't quite explain except to say it's doing what we do best and we get to do it in full force. In preparation for the season we are holding a number of orientations, ones geared towards outlining expectations and explaining new services and sometimes even philosophies and I had the pleasure of facilitating a session tonight.

I'm waiting for everyone to file in when I see him, a man who slept at our program last year because he had no place else to go. Tonight he walked into the staff meeting and sat down right in front. I see him and I can't help it, I'm grinning wildly as I understand what this means and yet conscious of things I stay where I am. He catches my eye and smiles and nods and the session begins. It's a lively group, one that ends with us making a collective commitment to each other and the cause to do all we can this season to help every person who walks through our doors. The excitement and perhaps a bit of apprehension fills the room and its tinged with my knowing that this is the last time I'll get to do this and I won't even be here to see the season end.

Folks are filing out when he comes up to me and he leans down and gives me a hug. I squeeze his arm and I tell him I am so happy to see him and he confesses he's a little scared being on this side of things. I talk a bit about the power in that, how he knows things some of us will never know and how much better that will make him at this and how much more others will place their trust in him, this man who has risen from their streets. I see it click then, his eyes light up you think so he says I know so and we walk through the great room stepping over sleeping bodies and walk into the night. I guess I'll head home he says and he turns and walks away and I stand for a minute watching him go because those five words have never sounded quite so sweet.

As I get in my car I glance back at the glowing light, I see bodies waiting in line and the folks at the desk. The smokers are filing out and someone's pushing someone else's chair. I see it all in this moment and I realize again what I've always known, this place and this work is the marrow of my blood and yet I am leaving and I wonder once again if anything can ever really take its place.

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21 comments:

KLS said...

What a great story!
You seem like the kind of person who will find something equally important and meaningful to do in the jungle.

Deezee said...

to see the success of the work must warm the soul. :)

I don't doubt that you'll always be in a role - formal or informal - of helping others.

Gwen said...

That's so great. And maybe nothing else will ever be able to fill that exact space. But I bet you'll find something to fill a space just like it, nearby. And that will be good, too.

ms chica said...

This sends chills down my back.

Madge said...

how wonderfully written. it's so bittersweet, thinking of you taking on such a great adventure, yet leaving something you love so much.

hele said...

Hug*

Mrs. Chicken said...

It isn't the work. It is you. Your soul will find some other outlet. You are 100 percent charity, and I mean that in the finest sense of the word - the old-fashioned virtue of it. Thank you for always reminding me to be grateful.

nyjlm said...

all I can ever say- thank you for sharing this story.

mamatulip said...

Are you leaving your job permanently when you leave? Or is it something that you might come back to?

If you come back, that is...

Sheri said...

Thank you. Again. Your work is a blessing, and you will be a blessing wherever you are.

marymurtz said...

I don't know why, but this just made me sob and sob.

alejna said...

That was such a beautiful story. It made me quite teary.

How wonderful that he is now on the other side of things, helping out others. That is the best kind of success story.

QT said...

You will find another calling in your new place - I just know you.

flutter said...

nothing will take its place, but something new will sit beside it

Maggie, Dammit said...

Wow.

cce said...

I'm sure you will find some other outlet into which you can plug your giving soul. The whole world needs people like you!

Bon said...

dude. this made me happy to read.

and this thing you love? no matter where you go, you'll bring it and find ways to share it.

wheelsonthebus said...

Jen,

What are the police doing about the homeless when the air quality is so bad?

Emily

Beck said...

This did my heart good. I wish everyone could have a home, could chase away their demons like he did.

painted maypole said...

something tells me that the community you are going to will afford you with many ways to help others in new ways, and your soul will be filled

luckyzmom said...

I wondered about that myself, but, you will probably be busy canning and stoking the fire and such.