“This place is so cool. So kids get to come here? Is it a park or something?”
I watched the two groups of teenagers walk around the corner of Flo’s Comfort House. They saw the bright fences and makeshift amphitheatre, the play area and garden and jewel-covered statues catching the sunlight. I can understand their wonder. There’s something about this little paradise tucked away in a neighborhood threatened by the darkness of drugs and violence.
The teams were there to clean up the garden and make Easter baskets for the children who find refuge and hope there in the afternoons. Flo smiled and thanked them over and over again for their kindness.
It was a good day for seeing the beauty of story.
My camera had already been to a tucked away place close to my home, where a group of friends repaired a roof and fixed leaks and held a woman’s hand as she made the decision to let go of her past and embrace her future.
And my camera would see so much more.
Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone…. Galatians 6:9-10
There would be the boys tending to the garden of a place that provides hope to kids whose families are in crisis, adults and kids clearing debris to make a prayer trail for a ministry down the road from their church community, teams delivering backpacks and prayer to the homeless, and families delivering trays of cookies to fire stations simply to say “thank you for caring about us.”
Yes, it was a good day for seeing the beauty of story. And for two days, more than 1100 people from my local church were writing stories for others as we cancelled church services and cared for our local communities. Stories of simple indiscriminate acts of kindness. Stories I pray sink deep into the hearts of those served and those serving.
Because those with hands open to give can’t help but receive.
“Share each other’s burdens…” Galatians 6:2
But the story that pierced my own heart was one my camera couldn’t catch. It was one happening in an East Austin neighborhood, and I only caught a glimpse of it as I drove by. With a glance to my right, time became timeless. In the parking lot of a neighborhood beauty salon, a crowd gathered to eat a home-cooked meal. There were balloons adorning poster board signs – “help cover funeral $ for our friend.” In a moment of anguish and pain, hope became chicken and tacos. When the cry was, “I don’t know what to do,” the response was “I’m here and I’m not leaving – and we’ll get through this together.”
I pray for that to be me, for that to be us. For us to know what it looks like to really share each other’s burdens. For hope to look like a prayer or chicken or a smile or a hushed, tear-filled, “I’m here.” For love to show up on a Saturday with balloons or on a Monday with a hug. For us to not be shy about reaching out and pouring and pouring and pouring out some more.
Whether cameras catch us or not, I pray we are that story.
What does this story look like for you? What stories have you seen of community, of caring, of serving? I’d love to read them!