Thursday, May 7, 2015

Purple Pain

I spent last week in Boston with my husband, who attended a medical conference, while I walked around that beautiful city taking in the sights, and the beauty of spring, now past in Texas. We attended church our last day in Boston at the Church of the Covenant, a federated church of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the United Church of Christ. I walked to the church earlier in the week to be sure we could find it easily on Sunday, and discovered a lovely, old building, its sanctuary decorated with Tiffany stained glass. I also saw a sign that simply said “Women’s Lunch” and with dates and times posted near a stair leading down from the sidewalk.

I went into the church to ask about worship times and stumbled into the office of a Young Adult Volunteer, a YAV as we Presbyterians call them, named Hope, whom I learned is also from Texas and knows several young people who grew up in our church. Hope had volunteered to spend a year in downtown Boston, and she works with the Women’s Resource Center that now takes up much of the church building. She gave me a tour of the church. Like any big city, Boston has its problems, including homelessness. The Women’s Resource Center provides not only meals, but also art classes, and help finding housing and employment, as well as laundry and shower facilities for homeless women. It was a blessing to see the bright dining hall warmed by the fellowship of the women who had gathered there for lunch that day surrounded by God’s love.

Towards the end of the week, while walking across the Boston Commons, I stumbled upon a domestic drama played out near a stonewall. When you are homeless, you don’t have a private place for such disputes. A young woman with purple hair and a hot pink puffed jacket screamed obscenities at a young man, who sat stony faced and immobile, wrapped in a blanket. She accused him of breaking up with her after abusing her, then poured her drink over his head and stalked off. Her pain and mental confusion were as vivid as her language and her purple hair.

Coward that I am, I wanted simply to walk away, but having visited the Women’s Resource Center, I felt compelled to try to talk with her and offer to take her there for help. When I approached, however, and said, “Miss,” she screamed, “Let me alone!” and ran off down the road. I still worry about her and hope she’s okay, and I pray for her. Sometimes that is the best I can do, but perhaps that is enough. God knows her needs better than I do, and I know God loves her and cares for her as much as God loves and cares for me. And I thank God for that.

Grace and Peace,

Donna Bowling