Approx. read time: 2:15 min.
I glance at the clock on the wall across the room. It tells me we’re already a couple of hours into the new year.
It’s a bitter cold night, and I mark this turning of the year in the Exhibition Hall at the County Fairgrounds.
The Exhibition Hall is where prize-winning animals are on show during the County Fair. But tonight, and the past four nights, it’s been a respite for people who lack shelter in my town.
I’m staffing the food area tonight, dishing up steamy aromatic bowls of thick turkey-vegetable-noodle soup, and supplying endless cups of coffee (decaf, really) with lots of sugar and creamer.
After things quiet down a guest comes up, puts her elbows on my serving table, her head in her hands, and looks in my eyes and asks me: “What am I supposed to do this year?”
This sounds like an existential question, given the endless chaotic mess that living unhoused is.
I sense that she is at wits’ end.
“What am I supposed to do this year?” she repeats, perhaps sensing that it’s the one question whose answer holds the power to cut through the chaotic mess.
I pause. Then, unrehearsed, I open my mouth, and let the words come out that need to reach her heart.
“Be a center of peace,” I say.
Be a center of peace.
Her eyes soften. She pauses a moment, then pulls herself up from her elbows, and stands erect.
“I can be a center of peace,” she says.
I sense a fresh awakening stir within her.
“I can do that,” she repeats. “I can be a center of peace.”
She takes in the phrase, as though embedding it in her memory, like Mary, whom the Scripture says “pondered things in her heart.”
And who am I, I wonder, who live a relatively stress-free sheltered life, to give this assignment to a sister who lives a stress-filled unsheltered life?
But there you have it. These are the words that come out. She seems ready to receive them.
“Thank you,” she says, nods, and walks away.
What I notice, in this moment, is that these words are for me, too.
Be a center of peace.
So here’s the question: What situations come to mind when you’ve been a center of peace? I’d love to hear your stories!
For inspiration, I recommend my collection of stories, Living as Jesus Taught. Read sample pages and purchase direct from the author!