Breakfast with the ladies
I had the best time eating breakfast with formerly homeless women on Sunday morning. I showed up to the shelter with a Starbucks to-go box of caffeinated goodness. My friend Sonja brought fresh fruit and made two tasty casseroles. It was pouring down rain and we were all happy to be indoors. Chatting about the merits of flavored nondairy creamer, the conversation turned to kids. The topic being discussed was not seeing your kids grow up and being separated from your family. Connie just met her seventeen-year-old son last month for the first time. Lilly had all three of her kids taken by the state. The undercurrent of shame and regret was palpable. While mistakes had been made in the past, the power of community began to unfold. The breakfast table was becoming a platform for encouragement and hope. “Your son will let you back into his life soon enough!” “Now that you have two years of sobriety things will keep getting better.” “It’s a good thing you filed a restraining order against your husband.” Shared suffering producing gracious support.
We try to watch the football game, but no one knows how to connect the laptop to the television. Heartfelt conversations are mingled with hilarious stories of carrying and birthing children. “That epidural is no joke.” “How do you expect me to push when I am almost unconscious!” “I was so fat when I was pregnant, I tripped and got stuck in the trunk of my car!” I make a dumb joke about leaving the toilet seat up. It’s better for me to listen.
When I get home and reflect on the morning, I am reminded of the story of Ruth from the Bible. A story of tragedy, loyalty, and restoration. Women who were widows and immigrants left to fend for themselves. Through their kindness and loyalty they experience the redemption of God. The women at the breakfast, like the women in the book of Ruth, boldly decide to transform loss into life by weeping together. By caring for each other, they are being transformed into women of noble character. “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.” (Proverbs 31:25-26 NLT). Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day!