All too often it is easy to get caught up in the busyness of life. The “To Do” lists and endless array of errands and “got to get done” tasks. They fill our days to the point we get lost in a mindless routine. I know this all too well.
Perhaps the best way I have found to re-center, re-focus myself through this “forest and tree” interplay - is with the stories of the people we have had the pleasure of working with and serving. Stories that punctuate remarkable human spirit and relentless resilience, but always seem to be rooted in a heartbreaking level of trauma and tragedy.
I can get just as narrow focused as anyone – AND, when I allow myself to remember that everyone has a story that sits behind the “curtain” of their trials, tribulations and troubles; I can really tap into the soul of the work that we are all called to do everyday.
The work of HBI and the people we serve is a kaleidoscope of stories. Each story mixes a bit of tragedy, a sliver of triumph, and a significant amount of hope. Hope that comes through relationships. Hope that comes through compassionate caring. And hope that comes from another human being during the darkest of times and most difficult of challenges.
In Latin America when a person makes a presentation, accepts an award, or is showered with accolades – they will often say . . . “I come to you in the name of . . ." – signifying the collaboration that often seeds any activity.
Well, I come to you in name of the “shadow people” of our society. People who have for so long been without a voice. People who slip below the radar screens of our lives. People who often live in a somewhat hopeless desperation. I come to you - to empower their voices. To let them know they are not alone. To insist that their lives matter.
And most of all, I come to you in the name of hope – a hope that is grounded in the belief that we (working together with our collective talents, skills, resources and passions) can ensure that no one will ever be forced to suffer in silence. No one will be plagued by the desperate fear that comes from feeling cast out or forgotten by society.
I want to leave you with one challenge. A simple challenge, that is anything but easy. A challenge that asks you to push your personal boundaries. A challenge to consider one thing (one act, one contribution, one event, one interaction) that will you will take on this week. Maybe its volunteering your time in a social outreach project. Maybe its becoming a mentor to the next generation of social justice leaders. Or maybe its just remembering that many people in our communities are riddled with the burdens of mental health challenges, substance use disorders, and economic injustices.
My challenge may seem simple – but my challenge comes with a hidden agenda. For you see, I believe giving is more about receiving than an act of service. I believe when we allow ourselves to move outside of the day-to-day comforts of our lives, we learn more about ourselves than we could have ever imagined. I believe the best way to change the world for people living on the streets or suffering in extreme poverty is through changing the way we view this world. I truly believe we are all connected, inter-dependent . . . united.
I come to you in the name of the sex workers of our communities who live in fear and suffer from the ravages of abuse and addiction. I come to you in the name of the immigrant day laborers who struggle to navigate a world so foreign to their own. I come to you in the name of the young adults suffering through the experience of homelessness and searching for answers in their lives and struggling with an addiction to heroin and an abusive relationship. But most of all - I come to you in the name of hope. Hope that we can, and will, change the lives of these beautiful and important people – through our collective, compassionate efforts.
The HBI Blog is a rotating journal from our staff. Our Blog is a series of messages from the field, insights from our work, and lessons in service.