*The YAVs and I spoke at Covenant Presbyterian Church today and below is the story I wrote and shared for the occasion. The story below is all very true and written with as much consideration for the people I am writing about.
PS- My favorite part of the whole event was that the church hand made and gave us our very own talking sticks, so that we always remember our right to story tell. I love it!*
The Stone Fountain
“Hi mama” I hear as the front gates of La Mesa open up, revealing a young woman holding her miniature bike and fallen-apart backpack. “Hi Kat”, I reply back, happy to see her smiling face and gentle spirit once again. I have been getting to know Kat through her occasional visits to the food pantry. Together, we will engage in discussion about current happenings, with her revealing little parts of her life and struggles through the stories she tells me. My visit with Kat this past week proved different than our usual conversations. No, this last visit left me speechless and in contemplation with a heart so full of love for this woman while feeling a mere drop of the brokenness that Kat has experienced in her life.
Kat comes walking through the doors of La Mesa with a broken smile, greeting me again with her usual “hey mama”. This time, however, the smile quickly leaves her face and tears begin to waterfall from her eyes. “Someone put a gun to my head last night,” she chokes out to me, as I stand there empty handed with a dumbfounded expression. “I was so scared, I don’t know what I did to deserve it,” she continues to explain while beginning to curl up with her arms and head against her chest. Coming out of my confusion from the abruptness of the moment, my mind and heart were able to form together the words “would you like a hug?” So Kat and I stood there for a few moments embracing each other in simple, yet deep silence. Kat then leaves to use the restroom and I go back to work on the computer.
Fifteen minutes came and went before I started to realize that Kat still had not come out of the bathroom yet. Getting a bit concerned, I decided to go check up on her. However, my search for Kat did not end up with me finding her where I expected. No, after looking all around inside, I found her standing in the church courtyard next to our stone water fountain. It was here where the presence of God rose out of us, slowly transforming into profound conversation and bringing us closer together, no matter our differences in the lives we walk.
Kat was so immersed in the formation of the stone structure which the water rose and trickled down from. Her amazement yielded comments such as “what if this is the rock Jesus rose from in the tomb?” and “look, there is the shape of a cross! I just know this stone is special.” The amount of times I sat by this water fountain and had never seen such sacredness in the ordinary the way Kat spoke of began to set the tone for how much I was going to learn from her. Together, we sat down on a bench and gazed at the water. And Kat began to speak.
And I wish I could tell you what she said, but it is her privacy and our intimate time which I will protect instead of sharing. However, I can tell you that the perspectives Kat brought to me that morning about her upbringing were spectrum opposite to the childhood I had the privilege to experience. Kat ends her heart-wrenching story by professing in her faith to the lord. Her words were, “But you know what mama, I have Jesus. I have the Lord. God protects me and loves me all the time. So I stay kind because Jesus tells me to stay kind. My friends tell me I am too nice, but I won’t be mean back. I just listen and pray to God. That is the right thing to do, right mama?” “No one can take away your light, Kat,” I told her. “No matter what anyone says or does or tells you, no one can take away the light that is your love. That belongs to you and Jesus.”
Little did Kat realize how much her story sunk deep into my bones, unraveling walls in my mind which hid these unfair and critical judgments I have cast on our homeless neighbors. As these walls started to fall, I thought of how I feel uncomfortable sometimes walking by someone struggling with homelessness on the street, or how I get ever so slightly annoyed when someone takes too long in the church bathroom and I have to make sure they are going to leave soon. This shame quickly transformed into gratitude and love for Kat, who without knowing it, created a tumbling down on the walls in my mind that formerly protected my ego-fueled, privileged thoughts from revealing their nasty face.
My friendship with Kat made me face dark realities about our society and how I am still so blinded and complicit to them. My friendship with Kat made me appreciate and love all people so much more, no matter where they live or how they carry themselves. We never know the full story of what people go through, but we can relate through our humanness and how it feels to crave that love that only God can really fill within us. I thank God for Kat’s presence in my life, and I pray that I may continue to be humbled from more of my siblings of God so that this vast Love may penetrate even deeper into my heart, mind, and soul. To all of my siblings of God, especially Kat: I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.
Kat is still currently living without a home, income, or family to support her.