I desire to share with you an 'experience of the season' that you, my clients, helped make possible.
Last September, I went to Lowes to pick up some things for my home. As I approached the entrance, I looked into the windows and saw Christmas trees, already neatly displayed for holiday consumers. It was my first indication that the holiday season was approaching. But, already in September? The unexpected sight of Christmas Trees and the assortment of commercial goods that went along with them triggered something unsettling inside of me that lingered in my awareness as the holiday season began to unfold.
Those clients that have experienced my Antara Sessions may have heard my teachings about internal "triggers". When things inside of us are "triggered" by external stimuli, it is beneficial to fully understand what has triggered the feeling. Doing so helps to clear it so we can make room for feelings of love and joy.
So, during morning meditations, I asked for guidance and received direction that this Christmas was not to be spent at home, but rather in service. Therefore, I looked far and wide for volunteer opportunities on Christmas Day in the Austin area.
Surprisingly, I found no open doors.
At the same time, I was also asking the Divine if I should venture north to West Michigan and spend time with my mother, who is terminally ill. However, I did not feel an overwhelming feeling to do so. Although, with gentle urging from my primary partner, I made plans for us to head north for the holiday season anyway.
Still aware of the direction to be of service, I wondered if I may be able to combine traveling north with the effort of volunteering. Within minutes of that thought, I was in contact with "Mt. Zion Safe House", a small non-profit in Kalamazoo, Michigan which welcomed the offer of help.
I had never heard of Mt. Zion Safe House. They were a small concern ... did not even have a website ... yet I was somehow able to find them with ease. After talking to someone there by telephone, I just knew that this was where we were supposed to be on Christmas Day.
They were a struggling project on a shoe-string budget. They provide respite for those who abuse alcohol and drugs, and for those who are recovering from the same. They serve meals on major holidays when most other non-profits are closed. They are located in a small cinder block building in the middle of "crack-central" and assist those that society tends to ignore ... and, other non-profits really do not want to deal with.
There, my partner and I were most honored to be of service. We served meals on Christmas Day and cleaned up afterward. We spent some extra time scrubbing their kitchen that had looked as if it needed some special attention.
We were humbled by the staff of the Safe House. The building may be small, but their hearts are as big as Heaven itself.
Mary is the cook. She is a large, beautiful African American woman. On that day of grateful giving, she was boisterous, full of life and energy even though she had been up all night laboring to prepare the scrumptious meal that was sure to send those who partook of it for an afternoon nap, bellies full.
She conveyed to us her own story of recovery.
You see, 10 years ago, she was a drug addict. She was neglectful of her small children because, at the time, serving her crack addiction had been more important. As a result, her children had been taken away from her by the State.
One day, she stumbled into Mt. Zion Safe House and life has not been the same since.
Now, she holds a full time job and has recently been awarded a promotion. She received custody of her children from the State many years ago and has since raised them with the love of a devoted and proud mother.
She also volunteers with the Safe House. With tears in her eyes, she conveyed to us the joy she now experiences as she offers to take care of neighborhood kids on Christmas Day so their mothers can go out and, well, do whatever they desire to do. For the kids, she has a "Happy Birthday Jesus Party", full of games where each kid gets a gift to take home. She said, "It's my way of giving back".
Mary is the kind of person you look at in awe and just want to wrap your arms around and hold forever.
Then, we met with the Executive Director, Yeshwua Israel. He showed us the storeroom that was almost empty. He conveyed to us that he was running out of funds and, as a result, was planning on shutting the doors for several hours every day to save money come the first of the New Year; something he had never had to do in the 15 years of being of service to the community. He said they were using their last couple cans of coffee and he didn't know how he could run a recovery program without it. He said they run out of toilet paper every once in a while, but bring in a roll from home, as best they can.
My partner, who is knowledgeable about Federal and State grants for programs such as the Safe House, conveyed to him detailed information about where he may be able to tap into additional Federal and State funding as well as a key contact within the State of Michigan that is responsible for managing Federal dollars for programs within the State.
When we left the Safe House, we knew that our work there was not yet complete.
So, with money from tips that you, my clients, have generously given me during 2006, the following day we went to Costco and loaded up a few months worth of supplies for the Safe House ... just common, but yet necessary stuff ... like cases of toilet paper, paper towels, tin foil, cleaning supplies, coffee, and much more.
As we pulled into the alleyway next to the side door of Mt. Zion Safe House, we truly felt like Santa Clause ... kinda sneaky in a way ... we hadn't told them we were coming.
Yeshwua was visibly moved as he realized, once again, that the Divine always provides for that which is needed. Then something remarkable happened.
Yeshwua walked out onto the street where people were lingering about, some homeless. He shouted, “Hey, I need some help here”. Within 30 seconds, there were a dozen people all gladly helping to unload the truck.
I watched in amazement as the community swiftly came together to lend undemanding, yet needed assistance. The people that the Safe House was there to assist instantly and graciously came together to lend support of their own.
Even though some of them were physically disabled, they did not hesitate to lend a hand, as best as they could, when the call for help was made. They displayed wide smiles on their faces as they were able to give back, in a simple way, to that which had given to them.
Ah, yes ... the joy of watching community-in-action was awe-inspiring indeed.
Although I have always told my clients that tips are not expected, many of you have continually extended your generous hearts. Please know that your generosity has gone to good use.
I am deeply grateful for your kindness.
Looking back on it now, that feeling that I experienced back in September was quite unsettling, even disturbing in some ways. Christmas is supposed to be a heart-felt time of year and full of joy, but the feeling that I experienced last September was not that, but rather one of trepidation ... not wanting the holidays to come.
As children, we take joy in that which we receive on Christmas Day. As we grow older, we begin to experience the joy of giving. Yet, I think there is another transition to be made somewhere along the way.
Yes, this year I experienced the love and true meaning of Christmas in many profound ways. I can not wait for the 2007 holiday season. Where ever we end up, I am sure that it will be full of wonder.
Perhaps it will come as early as July!
On the Sunday after our return to Austin, one of the ministers at our Church, Unity Church of the Hills, asked me about our trip to Michigan. I sent him a copy of this newsletter. He responded indicating that the church will be sending a tithe to Mt. Zion Safe House!
What an honor it is to have such
wonderful, caring people in my life.
I am grateful. Thank you.
If you also feel led to provide support to Mt Zion Safe House or Unity Church of the Hills, both of which have active and vital recovery programs, here is their contact information:
Mt. Zion Safe House
118 E. Paterson
Kalamazoo, MI 49007
Yeshwua Israel, Executive Director
Unity Church of the
9905 Anderson Mill Rd.
Austin, TX 78750