“The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution which has to start with each one of us?” ~Dorothy Day
Please read the excerpt below; this was written by a staff member about a gentleman we worked with for many years and who was able to move into a home of his own. This is just a glimpse into one person’s journey and how we are able to foster hope because everyone deserves to have their own home and food on their plate.
“Like the people who visited my Grandma, it often took more than one visit to move from small talk to real talk. It took more than one bowl of jello salad for a visitor to find the courage to admit they deserved to be comforted, understood, and not defined by their past. To be honest, Rocky quit visiting Dorothy Day for a few months after his comment about the handkerchief. When he returned, I assumed we were back to our previous agreement to be nonverbal, but he poured me a cup of coffee and asked me to sit down. He told me about a situation from 30 years ago that irked him. He told me the same story the next day. And the next week. And the next month. After a year of hearing this story, I was ready to go back to the silence. I used every motivational interviewing skill I could think of, and it felt like we were getting nowhere.
And then one day, as he was telling me the story, and I was thinking that I even knew his pauses by heart, I was startled by the odd image of wetness on his face. A single tear emerged from his discerning eyes, rolled down his chapped cheek bone, and landed on the table between us. He held a pause and then continued to tell a part of the story he’d never spoken of before – a part so secret it was like his words were cascading out, neither of us knowing what would come next. The life he once lived was scarier than most things anyone could imagine. His voice shook as he recalled how he used to cope and how it caused him to lose beloved people. When his words stopped, the tears continued, and I was brought back to so many years ago, when I would cuddle into my Grandpa’s chest and try to understand how one person could have been hurt so much, gone on to hurt other people, and then have transformed into such a perfectly healing presence.
More than a shower every day, more than coffee, and perhaps even more than housing, Rocky needed Dorothy Day. He needed time to let himself speak the secrets that haunted him. He needed love to realize that he too deserved comfort. His memories were unyielding brigades attacking his mind. He needed the space to be able to move forward on his own accord.
And he did. After almost a lifetime of homelessness, Rocky moved into housing. In five days from the date I write this (1.26.15), he will have been living in his own apartment for a whole year. I cannot explain his journey in simple statistics. I cannot quantify the exact things we did to help him. But I know Dorothy Day’s table, like the one in my grandparent’s kitchen, is covered in coffee stains and tears. Their presence, like heartbeats, drum out the comfort that everyone is perfect. Everyone is deserving. And together everyone can find the courage to be loved and make a lasting impact on their own lives.”