Cat Stevens sang, "I'm always talkin to you" even when he couldn't think of "right words to say." The memory of How Can I Tell You reminds me that I've been living 800 miles away from my daughter for four years, yet I don't really feel her absence because of a spiritual connection. The only way to get through the surprise of her decision not to come home was to remember the power of the spirit to fly. I told Emily that I feel like we're always together. I also told her that I have no expectations or demands, or even requests. This is an important time in a young woman's life: the last two weeks of high school. It's a heady time of great change and she will have to say a lot of goodbyes.
Thank you to my sweet, loving, kindhearted friends who held my hand and comforted me when I was really feeling painfully rejected and hurt. You are the best friends anyone could ever have.
Today is an important day. Today, many good things are happening. Elliot will go to the post office with an armload of envelopes! His first few days in business were such a smashing success that he sold out on his first day. By Sunday, he was up to 13 sales! I can't explain the excitement in his heart. His mission is already changing his perspective. Yesterday we had the opportunity to sit next to a panhandler while we were in traffic. I said, "Elliot, if that man is truly homeless, you are helping him. He doesn't know it, but you know it. Just because you aren't giving him cash right now doesn't mean you don't care about his situation." While we drove through the changing light, I looked at this man's wrinkled face, his red curly hair, and made eye contact. I said a little prayer and kept going. Elliot said, "I noticed he had something around his neck. I wonder if it was a work badge like Daddy wears. Do you think he has another job?"
So we are opening up this very complex problem. We are unpacking a box of parts to assemble, seeing for the first time how panhandling and homelessness are two separate things. We are talking about things like substance abuse, mental illness and poverty. We are talking about the different places and situations homeless people may find themselves in. How each homeless person, or each homeless family, have different problems that they are facing. That they have battles to fight that we can't see. Some may sleep in parking garages, some in tents in the camps. Some have refuge in shelters, and some may sleep under underpasses and bridges. On our bike rides through the park, we have noticed holes in the fence at the back of the cemetery. We talked about how the cemetery would be a safe place to sleep at night, because people who might take advantage of a lonely homeless person would be afraid to hang out with the dead at night.
We talked about personal pride and the desire of the homeless to be invisible.
We are still unpacking this box. Not all of the pieces are going to fit. We are imagining the unseen homeless while also looking closely at their faces.
Elliot has dictated a letter to go along with his paintings. This idea was inspired by Shelly and I want to thank her so much for suggesting it. Now everyone who buys a painting will also receive Elliot's words. I will not share the letter here, because I feel it needs to be opened by the people who are supporting Elliot and encouraging him to keep moving forward. It is the kind of straightforward language of a child who speaks plainly and matter of fact. It contains a particular line that I will remember forever. It leaves me in awe at the tenderness and sensitivity of my child's heart.
Here's to many good things happening for you today.
You're always with me.