In an earlier post I told you about how it came to be that I learned to love “unconditionally”. I credit my son, who while battling his substance abuse disorder, challenged every way that I or anyone could find to love him. I accepted the challenge and with every way he thought he became un-lovable, we showed him he wasn’t.
Thinking back to this past year, since his death from a heroin overdose; I often wondered; “Where would all of this love go?” It’s not that I don’t have other children, family and special people in my life to dote on and adore. I do and I do! I found right away however, that I had a special reserve in my heart.
The kind of love I speak of has a different energy than most. It doesn’t require reciprocation. It is always hopeful. It doesn’t judge. This kind of love is action-taking and relentless. Pursuing chance and change. I never stopped giving chances. I always believed he could change his path. I don’t consider his death a failure. He is more like a soldier who put his time in on the battle in the streets. Now, he rests and I needed to figure out what was next for me.
This kind of love, needs to serve. I have found the place. A local shelter called Hotel Grace. In the winter months when the weather drops this shelter in a basement of a church, opens up their doors. Fifty cots all lovingly placed, round tables and a hot meal fill this space and make ready for the ones who will find rest. But, that’s not what I notice. I see people just like me, who love with no condition. People who have made making this world a better place for someone else, their life’s mission.
When the doors open and the guests begin to come in I look at their faces and think to myself “once upon a time this was him”. So, my heart opens and the love pours out. My heart, once silenced by pain, is beating again. I listen to them speaking and the voices sound familiar. No, not the voices , just the stories; in my memory they have lingered. I find myself smiling, laughing and shaking my head. It’s like being home with my son times fifty and it is bringing me so much joy.
I know healing is taking place in this Mother’s heart of mine. It’s not always fun and games. Sometimes I see someone under the influence of something, I don’t need to know what, and my heart goes back to the fear it felt before. I see a head nodding, eyes glossing and the nervous energy I became all too familiar with . I worry for them. I want so much for them to be well. Better than well. Winning. Thriving. Healing.
I have never been one to live my life at risk of having regrets. I didn’t come here to fall down or to cower down in fear. I came to love the broken and to use up my reserves. I’m not a hoarder of these emotions. I leave them everywhere. When I hold a hand, talk, or pray with someone, I know that this is where I need to be. These are healing grounds, for them and for me.
My favorite time at Hotel Grace is when we say “lights out, time for bed”. Not for the reasons you would think. This is the time I have taken to popping into the kitchen, I wash dishes, clean out coffee pots, and wipe counters, All the while trying to work as quietly as I am able. I love this time. Other volunteers are in there and we work and whisper quietly. It reminds me of home for some reason. I know it’s because I often cleaned up after my kids were in bed, It was a peaceful time when I knew their heads were in their beds.
I’m laughing to myself as I close this because, deep inside I know. There is no end to my reserves. Where there are broken people is always where my love will go.
Special thanks to Pastor Richie Gonzalez who loves so well.