Leora

The last of the painting projects for 2012 is completed.  The lime green dresser plus the bright orange walls in the baby’s room will most certainly instill in the child a love of all things neon and all things 80s.

Am I the only person who’s over the moon with excitement about Les Mis the movie? I’ve been listening to the soundtrack all day today and trying not to cry.  I’m sure the neighbors have been enjoying my singing as well (windows are open due to painting).  That’s one of the benefits about living in a neighborhood full of crime, homelessness and people with mental illnesses.  You are never the weirdest person on the block.  We’ve pushed this theory pretty far and have yet to be proven wrong.

There’s so much swirling in my brain today, but I want to tell you about Leora.   Two months ago, I let the dog out before we went to bed, and she was sitting on our porch.  Hard to tell, but she appears to be about 55 years old, very sick, clearly homeless.  We spoke for a while.  I gave her a blanket, dinner and some juice and said goodnight.  I couldn’t sleep all night.  It felt so ugly and so wrong.  I have three empty beds in my apartment, and yet she was sleeping outside.  Why couldn’t I get the courage to invite her in?

This morning, she was back.  She looked slightly better but still struggling.  We spoke again for a while.  She was very excited about the pregnancy and offered lots of advice about how to stay healthy.  This time, I invited her in for breakfast.  She declined, and I was admittedly relieved.  We spoke some more.  She told be about her daughters.  She has MRSA, which has rendered her left arm immobile and makes it virtually impossible for her to be admitted into any shelter.   Then she asked if she could come in and use the bathroom.

My earlier courage had dwindled, but I couldn’t say no now!  I led her inside.  The Spirit was so loud in my mind, but the battle was raging.  Scripture poured into my mind – love others as you love yourself, whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me, and of course, Isaiah 58:

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

At the same time, my mind was going over all the reasons why this was a terrible idea.  Contagious, flesh-eating bacteria aside, I immediately panicked wondering if she might try to kill me once we got inside.  [I know, I’m insane.]  Considering she couldn’t use her left arm and could barely walk, I decided that even 8 months pregnant, I could take her.

Obviously, there were no incidents.  Everyone survived the trip to the bathroom.  [She did offer to clean my apartment.  She was concerned the dust might harm the baby.  Ok, ok!  I’ll clean.  Jeez.]

Ugh.  I am so broken by this.  Why is loving another human being so hard?  I literally had to repeat to myself over and over – this is a child of God, a human being, someone’s daughter, someone’s mother.  It’s quite disgusting the thoughts I was having and the concerns that kept popping into my head.

I always like to think that if we were missionaries living in Africa, we would have needy people parading through our home.  Ha!  That’s quite an elaborate fantasy.  Will I be getting a brian transplant before we leave?  Am I going to be a different person in that scenario?

I don’t have any answers.  I do know that God is sending Leora to me to challenge me.  I actually laughed with joy when I saw her this morning.  So happy to have another opportunity to try again.  I was honored that she felt safe enough to come back and remembered our last visit.  Not for my own glory but because she must have felt loved in some small way.  And she is!  God loves her so much.

I feel a little like the Grinch when his small shriveled heart grew three sizes in one day.  God blessed my small, insignificant, pathetic attempt at being a decent human being.  God is molding me.  It hurts, but it’s working.

Ok, Jean Valjean is singing “Who Am I,” and I’m seriously going to start weeping.  Too much love in my heart!