With Hearts Held Up To Heaven
As we celebrate the Feast of Assumption of our Jesus’s Mother, our Mother, into Heaven and pray to be filled with her faith and love for God, we also hold our hearts up to Heaven in Thanksgiving as we celebrate that it has been a year since we signed the papers to buy the East Wheeling HoH house. How long the search for the right house seemed and what miracles occurred in the process! And how much has happened in this first year!
It has not just been a year of major renovations of the house but also of our hearts. I don’t think even a novel could encapsulate a glimmer of all that has happed here this year though. What started as a dream and a Calling into a Ministry has turned into a Family. I remember wondering how we would invite or let people know about the HoH Catholic Worker, and wondering if anyone would come when we had our first Open House. We never adverstised. We prayed for friends. And besides for a few Facebook post, we did nothing but watch God Work.
Our first holiday was Thanksgiving and we witnessed the house fill up with neighbors, those that live in houses and those that lived in tents, shelters or doorways, college students, Catholics and many other denominations of Christian’s hearing Jesus’s Call to live out His Love in the world coming together to gather around a table in true Thanksgiving. God drew us together. Friends! A Spirit greater than any ad or Facebook post reached into our hearts and in Him we found our Beginning.
And we have been an Open House every Sunday since because of so many open hearts and prayers. Your open hearts! We have been a place to gather for the warmth of each other and a community meal, Prayer, art and more- when there are no other warm places to go and when the soup kitchens are closed on Sundays-It has become the day to grow as a family. Your open hearts have provided toiletries, laundry soap, clothes for those in need of showers, clean clothes and shoes. Others have generously contributed, while others give the gift of their precious time. There is no way for my heart to express the gratitude it holds for each one of you and I could tell you story after story of lives that have been effected by your Love. By YOU being a conduit of God, YOU have given so many HOPE! There are times I literally sit weeping unable to explain the honor it is to witness such love! Please know you all are in my prayers daily!
But it is far more than warmth or air condition on a hot day, more than clothes and showers, food in a hungry belly, it is the fellowship of being part of a Family. We have heard more times than we can count from our homeless friends who can’t believe they are welcome in a house, that they are not "homeless" when they come here. I am not sure how we have come to a place where a whole cross section of our society doesn’t think they are wanted in a Home…but here they know that is not true and more, this is not true because God wants them in His Home. …You have helped us open the door to invite all into God’s Hospitable Love, God’s Family. There are never enough “thank you”s for that!!!
Christmas was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. As we gathered in the precious Gift of Jesus, our tree shone not only with lights but was covered in prayer tags that people had added over Advent along with "Call to Prayer" bells that were like the one we keep in the Chapel. It is the most beautiful tree I have ever seen.We all have the Gift of Prayer to give! And so we did. There was a small gift under the tree for everyone. Some started to cry and tell us stories of growing up in the foster system and how this was their first family Christmas with a tree, meal and gift. It was a Christmas where it felt like Jesus's manager had the the shelter of our hearts.
Days go by quickly here and there is always something going on. Sometimes it is someone that needs help or just an ear that will listen. Sometimes we have been able to facilitate and walk with those successfully recovering from drugs, helping them get jobs, housing and their identity and purpose back. We have cried, prayed and finally celebrated on the day when we have been able to help those living in tents move into apartments and celebrated with them as each piece of furniture or appliance was found for it. We keep praying and working for those who still need them. I do not have words to explain the lump in my throat and the sacred honor I feel when someone trust us enough to ask us to help them with paper work because they quietly tell us they don’t know their “letters”. We have been able to drive folks to Moundsville to get “Id’s” so they can get jobs. And we are in the process of setting up the HoH BikeShare so folks without transportation can borrow a bike! Also, and again through many folks kind donations, we are also in the process of setting up a free Art Studio. One thing we quickly learned, is there is not much to do when one is homeless and just sitting and waiting on the “system” is not good for the soul. We are hoping eventually this will provide a venue for folks to be able to create a product for a little additional income as well as give their Soul a place to express itself. We have begun a garden as well! In the ache of hardships and life situations I still can't believe are happening here in America, beautiful is blooming.
God asked Hagar in the desert, “Where have you come from and where are you going?” Days can go by fast here and be filled with events that seem like mountains before us, but God keeps making a way. And we keep learning, learning that “Giving Drink to the Thirsty” can mean letting our neighbor without utilities fill their water jugs, but it can also mean giving someone a popsicle and a smile. This year we have entered into a Vision and are living in a Reality where God "Sees" us, guides us; grows us. We move from one miracle to another, learning that we too are in fact miracles…. at the end of the day, we find we have gained a greater understanding of Love…the giving, hard, sweaty, doing, being, verb of Love..where we have stepped a little deeper into understanding God’s Heart and who we are in Him <3 God Bless each one of you!