My soul is joyful while my heart is crying

A lovely 78 year old lady and her 50+ year old son came to the Bus Boutique today. The Dial-a-ride dropped them off and she slowly went up the stairs in the Bus Boutique. R. was referred through a local agency and was in need of clothing.

Her wrinkled old face reflected some of the heartache of her life but when she spoke her eyes lit up and she was joyful and excited about the things that where going well.

She recently lost her daughter and to pay for the funeral everyone in the family sold most of their belongings at a yard sale. They also made tamales, had car washes and whatever else they could think of to pay for the funeral expenses.

But winter was coming and her wardrobe is empty.

So, together we went ‘shopping’…..and with every piece of clothing we found, she was excited thanking Jesus for what she was given.

But I have to admit, I don’t know who enjoyed this more. I enjoyed watching her son help me organize some things while he found clothing for himself, I enjoyed the joy on her face when she was blessed with good winter clothing. I was joyful to be able share some time with her and hear a little of her life story. I am joyful because I get to see how the many clothing donations community members have made are coming to good use. I am thankful for the grant from Merced Foundations for the upkeep, gas, and insurance for the Bus Boutique.

At the same time I had to hold back my tears, tears over the brokenness of our system and society that made a 78 year old woman not have enough money for clothing. It made me sad when she shared that she might have to move out of her 1 bedroom apartment because on her social security she cannot afford it My heart was crying over her agony of having to bury her own daughter. I was sad because there are many more people around in the same predicament.

So I am once again faced with the paradox of our work. The joy when people connect with each other, the sharing stories and resources, the being a little bit of community together, while at the same time my heart is broken over the smallness of our impact in the vast amount of pain and loneliness in our communities.

But I will not forget her face, or her story, I will remember that with every smile I give, every kind word I have, every resource I share, every help I ask for, someones live is changed, if even only in a small way.

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