I dropped off four women in the pouring rain today.
Under an awning of a darkened building downtown.
Memphis and some cruel trick of the blues.
Without home, but not without shelter. For one night, anyway.
Just a few minutes before we were in the safety of my car. Hearing one woman question the providence of Father God and how no Mother God could leave her children to face this soggy world alone.
On the side of the street, they retrieved their baggage from the trunk of the car. Backpack, duffle, plastic bag, leftover breakfast, coat.
And huddled under the awning.
Like baby chicks under a Mother’s wet wing they huddled.
I dropped off four women in the pouring rain, and crying at the stoplight, I’m reminded that mothers leave, too.
I wrote this yesterday morning, raw and troubled and aching. We had just hosted a night of Room In The Inn at Memphis Theological Seminary, where we welcomed eight guests experiencing homelessness into the warmth and shelter of Hilliard Hall. It was time to drop off our guests back at the prescribed location downtown.
Exhausted, I was already anticipating a nap when my alarm went off at 5:15 a.m. after spending a mostly restless night as an Inn Keeper with the guests. My servant’s heart was feeling dried up and flaky.
Sometimes I have to be reminded that it’s not the Kingdom of Dusty I serve, it’s the Kingdom of God.
Only a few hours before on Sunday night, I had sat at the dining table with one of our guests, lacing black thread through the eye of a needle from a sewing kit I had just purchased from CVS. The guest — a transgender woman — had a bra in desperate need of repair. A safety pin would do it, she figured, but as a veteran user of this type of undergarment myself, I knew a safety pin wouldn’t last.
So I secured straps so they wouldn’t break and cause distress during a distressing day of wandering the wet, soggy streets, each tug and pull of my needle with its thread an act of solidarity and perhaps empathy.
It was uncomfortable for me. I had questions. But it was as holy a moment as I’ve ever experienced.
Our guests came hungry; our volunteers generously fed them.
Our guests came thirsty; they found cups ready to be filled.
Our guests came tired; they found refuge in pallets carefully made out for them.
Our guests came questioning; and left with questions.
And with the rain pouring down in the stormy morning twilight, wipers clearing a space of vision and clarity, I helped caravan our guests back downtown to go about their day. Hearing their backseat conversations, and helping make sense of a God we can call Friend and yet at the same time never truly know, I realized how little I know and how much I have yet to learn.
I have questions, too.