Sometimes when I don’t know how to express all that I am feeling I write letters, letters that are never sent and often never seen by the person I address them to.
These letters give my heart space to work things out-to have a voice. It is with caution that I write this next letter because I know how deeply my heart has been touched by this woman…. Ana.
Thank you for sharing your story with me today. It was a sacred moment as I sat and listened to you tell of your own pain and your own loss.
And after hearing your story I must say, I felt a pang of guilt for barely even noticing you earlier. Oh I saw you, as our host pointed you out, a woman well in age on her hands and knees drizzling sauce over plates of rice, encircled by little mouths all waiting for their turn. I remember thinking of how it reminded me of little birds barely born crowding around their mother, unable to see yet so hungry for the nutrience she offered.
I saw you as my eyes brushed over the scene before me, yet you remained unknown to me.
I knew the work you did allowed children of prostitutes to have a place to go and be cared for rather than watching their mamas work, and I was in awe of your tough work ethic and raw courage, yes, courage, for what I only dare to visit for a moment you have the courage to live out day after day after day.
But, dear Ana, I never imagined you had a story of your own.
You shared of your own experience in prostitution and addiction and your long battle to move out of that. You shared how hard it was to get clean and to start life over and I watched your face softened as you talked about your life of rebuilding and decision to stay and help others. I could see it in your eyes as you talked… your love for these girls you visit in the brothel.
And then you allowed me the sacred space of joining you in the streets. I watched as these young girls pushed to be near you, to hold your hand. They vied for your attention.
You are a mother to them.
You see, dear friend, because you have walked in their shoes- been where they are- you are their walking hope.
Hope of freedom. Hope of a different life. Hope of being loved for who they are not what they do.
Sometimes I think our world has it all wrong, for the ones who appear rich are often so incredibly poor- poor in spirit- poor in relationships- poor in character. And the truly rich-the bold-the beautiful, walk by unnoticed.
So thank you, dear Ana, for your story, for the honoring of walking alongside of you today, for being reminded to always look for hidden treasures in people around me.
Until we meet again,
* the name has been changed to honor this dear woman, although her name is never hidden from Him to who it matters most…. Jesus.