Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Behind Locked Doors

Imagine Christmas behind locked doors. Imagine sharing one small room with your children all in bunk beds. Imagine a Christmas with no money, no home and no hope.

What happens when the spirit is beaten out of a person? What happens to a woman who is strong enough to flee the only security she has known in order to save her and her children? Where does she begin and how?

I wish for each of you to have the chance to walk into a women’s shelter. You will truly understand the spirit of giving and understand the blessings you possess.

When a woman comes into the shelter, she is either given a room with a roommate or if she has a family, they all share a small room. If she does well in the shelter climate, she is then moves upstairs to a similar room with a private bathroom. This is her starter home. The children attend public schools and get counseling at the clinic. Their identity is hidden, and the doors to the shelter are locked.

It smells like used clothing. Women and children shyly pass through the halls. Volunteers scurry around handling the holiday traffic. Walls are adorned with children’s art, Native American art made by one of the women, a small shrine of poetry. A non-profit group gives the women writing classes, so they can learn to express their stories. One poem is of a policeman who tried to drown his wife until she began to breathe in water and her own blood. Another story is of a woman who was torn with pain because she has such low self-esteem which made her a perfect victim. Stories of anger, shame, fear given voice on paper.

Rebecca had just begun a new job. She needed tennis shoes for her walk to the bus. She needed nylons and new clothing to wear to her new workplace. Her family had been in the shelter for a year still hiding from her husband. At last she had the strength to face the world. Our office pitched in to help her. Her kids had dreams of a Christmas they didn’t believe could come true….our ‘Santa’ made it come true. We dressed a woman for her first steps back into the world. We did a good thing.

No one should have Christmas behind locked doors. Doors that keep the bad things out. We shook that lock and helped a woman build confidence and helped her family believe that there is a caring world outside of that door.

This is a Dickens’ story. Truly the spirit of Christmas that touched this family, touched all of us as well.

Put on that red suit, and you will be changed. Put on that red suit, and a small part of the world will change as well.

God bless us every one.

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