Advent is a time of reflection, expectation, and hope.
One night in early November, I received a surprise invitation to watch Catholic radio celebrity, Teresa Tomeo, broadcast her show live the next morning from our 1230AM Emmanuel Radio studio in Worcester, MA. Clearly, the highlight of my week…maybe year!
As I pulled into the parking lot between St. Paul’s Cathedral, the radio station, and Abbey’s House (a homeless shelter for women), I noticed a woman walking across the parking lot. She looked familiar, but I couldn’t place why. Should I stop and ask? Yes. Stop the car. Ask.
“Excuse me but…. I think I know you? I’m Chris. Do you remember me?”
The young woman looked at me in a vacant way … then her eyes flew open and she said, “YES! You’re Chris from the Women of St. Luke’s! I’m Lisa.” (not her real name)
I was beyond thrilled to randomly run into Lisa having met her five years earlier at a lock-down program when she was only 16. Now I could connect with her “on the out.”
“Great, great! Please wait just a sec while I park my car ,” I said.
But Lisa kept walking…walking towards the homeless shelter and went inside.
I wasn’t sure what to do. Should I follow her? Yes.
I walked to the shelter, knocked, and saw Lisa’s smiling face through the window. She let me in. This is ok.
Huge smiles. Open arms. Long hugs. We connected. Lisa was homeless. Living at Abbey’s House. Had pictures of her small child, now in custody of another.
Then I saw her pull a letter from her purse. “I got to leave here by the end of November,” she said.
I wasn’t sure if I should ask why as I negotiated the spin of emotions. Our unexpected visitation. Her homelessness. Her beautiful child saved from abortion. Uncertainty of her future. Her imminent return to homelessness.
All I knew was what I could offer…
“If you know anyone pregnant and homeless, there’s an amazing home called Visitation House up on Endicott Street,” I said.
Lisa patted her new baby bump and said, “4 months!” Then held the letter out. “I have to leave Abbey’s house in two weeks. And I am pregnant!”
“Call Visitation House right away! They will help you! There’s a room open for you!”
How does one describe the pure joy of random events lining up and transforming perfectly into answered prayers?
Expectations satisfied. Hope delivered. That morning was a brilliant light in my day…and year. Just not as I had thought.
This Advent, when told “there is no time, no hope, no room”… let’s reflect that there is always hope, a way, “a room,” if we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us and say “Yes” when He whispers.