Friday, July 5, 2013

Reaching out

This summer I have been placed at a non-profit called The Next Door in Nashville, TN. The Next Door provides a variety of services designed to address the mental, physical and spiritual needs of women in substance-abuse crisis.   It provides care for women and families impacted by addiction, mental illness, trauma, and/or incarceration. It seeks to decrease substance use and relapse, to break the cycle of substance abuse and dependency within families, and to facilitate successful family reunification of single mothers and their children.  

I spend most of my time at one particular location, the Freedom Recovery Center, which is a more permanent transitional housing for women and their children.  We provide transitional living and recovery support services to women who are coming out of incarceration, rehabilitation centers, or domestic violence shelters. 

That mouthful is all to say, I have spent my summer thus far with a wonderful group of women and their children.

One particular little boy I adore is named Eli. Just a year old, he does not say much but his actions speak volumes.  Whenever he sees anyone he stretches out his arms and reaches for them.  It does not matter who it is he sees or whose arms he is already in, he reaches for whoever he lays eyes upon.  It is funny to see people’s reactions. Some just pass him by, either unaware of his presence or uninterested in being touched. Others are just so used to this gesture they are no longer moved by it. Yet for others, this small gesture of open arms brightens their day, and they excitedly reach back for a full embrace.

Unknowingly, Eli graces me with his presence. He is a daily reminder of the love offered to me. At just two feet tall and still a little wobbly on his feet, Eli embodies the love and grace of God. Eli’s out-reached arms know no bounds. He continues to reach out to anyone and everyone.  In a community where too many women have had their love exploited, this genuine sign of love gives me hope.

I wonder what the world would be like if we all lived with arms stretched wide open.

Peace and Love from Nashville.


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