|I can remember being part of a volunteer team to remodel a section of (HS) Haywood St. Methodist church, 4 plus years ago. The end result was a 24/7, 8 bed, short term Respite home (usually 2 weeks) for those experiencing homelessness. Most of our friends there are a direct discharge from Mission Hospital who are in need of respite care. At HS, we do not use the labels homeless, patient or client. We call them Friends and we call ourselves Companions since we are there to serve. Our service is to support our Friends with loving kindness so they can find their Inside Peace into more happiness and joy. Back then, I knew via a message from GOD that I should be there to help in some sort of service.
After joining the church’s new story circle, also 4 plus years ago, I gained the confidence to facilitate a story circle in Respite shortly thereafter. This type of story circle is where one person speaks at a time with a talking stick and a prompt that is given by the facilitator. It is here that one is seen, heard and listened to as they speak and share their story. It’s empowering since a good many of us have never had that specialness or an opportunity in our lives. Their knowing that what is said in Respite, stays in Respite helps to open the flood gates for them to speak their truth into healing. I keep reminding myself that I am not there to fix anyone, but to actively listen with an open, loving heart. One of my questions in circle is asking how their new plan to live their life is going to help them find their Inside Peace especially after they leave Respite. Some have ideas with implementation in the making, and some are still working on their plan. I feel it is all the way it is supposed to be as I surrender to what is, rather than what I think it should or can be. I am so grateful for all the new wisdom I am receiving from my Respite Ministry. Then comes 6pm. We all sit in the kitchen and break bread together as all one, since we truly are all GOD’S children. One thing for sure is that most, if not all, of our Friends are grateful for Respite and especially for the caring people that work and volunteer there as Friends.
Sometimes story circle isn’t a go, so I sit in the kitchen where our friends pop in and out, I go to the TV room or sit at the end of the hall to make myself available to listen with a welcoming smile as I say, “Hi, I’m Maggie, Vic’s sister, how’s it going today?” It’s a pretty good ice breaker with a good laugh as they look back and forth at both of us trying to figure out how we could be sisters! Vic is my long time spiritual sister. She has worked in Respite as a Friend since it opened.
I always invite our Friends to go with me Wednesday mornings to the HS story circle at 9-10am in a room off the church’s hall, lobby area. Sometimes it happens especially if they do not have appointments that morning. Please join us there for a wonderful experience of sharing from the heart. All are welcome.
Thank you for the opportunity to share my ministry in Respite.
-Maggie Purnell (AKA The Hug Lady)!