Every Monday I go to the Mission to mentor kids at a homeless shelter. I pass through several blocks lined up with cardboard boxes and people living on the street. The stench that hits me the moment I exit the freeway is almost unbearable. But then I get to the Mission and I see staff members providing selfless services round the clock to people struggling with substance abuse, personal tragedies, mental illness and a lot more.
Someone once said ,”The sturdiest of trees is not found in the shelter of the forest but high upon some rocky crag, where its daily battles with the elements shapes it into a thing of beauty.” I walk into the class and I start talking to the kids one by one getting to know them asking them about their day. Very quickly I realize I am looking at exceptionally strong, brave, intelligent, courageous and beautiful kids. I am humbled by their stories. I cant help but admire their ability to stay grounded despite their circumstances. Their resilience in the face of grave and real challenges is incredible. Albert Camus’s words come to mind,” In the midst of winter I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer”.
Being with these children has taught me to love people for who they are just the way they are. When they are hurting the most is when they need unconditional love. Not our reasoning. Not our criticism. But love, kindness, compassion, words of encouragement and sometimes just a hug to let the other person know they are loved, supported and cared for. I know this to be true because I was lucky enough to receive it when I was in a rough spot. Steve Goodier once said,”I give best when I give from my heart”. So true.
I am also grateful for my scars because they are now helping others heal. Every moment I spend with these kids is enriched with wisdom I have gained when healing from my own wounds.Steve Maraboli says it best ,”My scars tell a story. They are a reminder of times when life tried to break me, but failed. They are markings of where the structure of my character was welded.”
In that class room with mentors expressing unconditional love for the kids- there is healing taking place, hope being restored, accomplishments proudly celebrated, each individual applauded not for who they were in the past or who they will be in the future but for who they are now. In a place of extreme poverty, suffering and hopelessness, the invincible power of human spirit continues to thrive defying all odds and limitations.
“Many things are possible for the person who has hope. Even more is possible for the person who has faith. Still more is possible for the person who knows how to love. But everything is possible for a person who practices all three virtues.”- Brother Lawrence in The Practice of presence of God.
I hope we never forget we were born with the ability not only to overcome difficulties but to thrive and have been given the incredible opportunity to lovingly shine our light upon others.
©2015, Vani Murthy. All rights reserved