As a child I was intimately aware of people’s tangible and emotional needs. I was raised by my Mama who was a teenager at the time I was born. We lived in a very small home on top of a mountain in East Tennessee. There were wide cracks in the floor and the old windows were paper thin. I remember snow blowing in from under the front door and wild animals getting in from between the wide floorboards. The water pipes froze each winter and the stifling heat enveloped us in the summer. Mama struggled to pay the bills which was no fault of her own. A teen mother and her child living in poverty quickly bled into the statistics in our rural hometown. I was five at the time, but I was emotionally attuned to our reality.
Something that I noticed was that the small country church that we were part of would help pay our bills, bring us food, and bless me with second hand clothing at the beginning of the school year. Those memories are so vivid in my mind that I can still recall the the way the cool black plastic of the trash bags full of clothes felt on my fingertips. My heart swells as I remember the feeling of trying on my new-to-me clothes for hours at a time. Even then I day dreamed of helping people in need when I grew up. There was something about living in need that made me empathetic at an early age.
Fast forward to right here in this moment. I have so many more stories of how I have been uplifted by being involved in a community. People have prayed with me in my weakest moments, sent me snail mail to encourage me, brought my family meals after surgeries. The love and compassion of others is one of the most beautiful things–like a living and breathing art piece. My daughter is the age I was when I saw my Mama working so hard to take care of me. Already, my little girl makes homemade cards to the helpless, hopeless, and lonely. She picks dandelions out of the yard for me daily.
I know the perils of the world so intimately. My mind is not ignorant of the suffering of others. My heart, though, knows with full assurance that there is rest for the weary.
These notes are my offering.