Please Know...

As I come to know these fine people, they share with me more of their personal and sensitive stories. Their collective story is what I am trying to share with you as my way of breaking the stereotypical beliefs that exist. "Blog names" have occasionally been given to me by the person whose story I am telling. Names are never their actual names and wherever I can do so, I might use the opposite pronoun (his/her, etc.) just to help increase their privacy.


Saturday, April 20, 2019

In Memory of "Diane"


For as long as I live on this earth, I will forever remember my first moments with Diane.  I met her in the fall of 2017 at the north end of the Frankford Avenue bridge community.  I knew that this lady was new to the streets.  When we were close enough to talk, I introduced myself and asked her name.  She smiled and told me and then she asked:

"Chris, How are you?[1]  It's nice to meet you.  Are you from a church?"

"Yes.  I'm from Urban Hope Church."

"I love the church.  I go to Mass every day that I possibly can even living out here."


And She Slept

…. I want to tell you about a young woman in her mid-20s.  "Diane's" spirit shines bright with the inner light of her Christ who I know lives in her heart as she worships Him almost daily in Mass at the local Roman Catholic Church.   On Sundays, she occasionally attends a contemporary worship service at another church and invited me to join her there some Sunday.  She does what she can to stay physically clean and well dressed.  She always has a smile and an extra hug to give away.

To num the emotional pain of her childhood and through no fault of her own, addiction found its way into her life.  Having been cut off from her family, she financially supports her life by walking the streets looking for dates.  As she prepares to do so, she looks at me and says “It’s time to go humiliate myself.”  A tear, perhaps God’s tear from deep inside her soul, spills out and down her cheek even before she can complete that short sentence.
                       
The mental anguish of self-humiliation and long hours with no sleep bring with them absolute exhaustion.  Upon returning to the bridge, "Diane" curled up on a piece of cardboard and covered herself with a nearby sheet.  As the cold dampness of this late fall overcame her, she began to shiver with no immediate solution to the problem.

Enter the Quit…

Barely an hour before this, a neighbor in Glen Mills gave me a queen sized quilt that had been sitting somewhere in their house unused and not really needed.  She gave it to me to give to someone in Emerald City.  When I saw Diane asleep and shivering just outside the cover of the bridge, I grabbed that quilt and wrapped her in it as snuggly as I could.  She awoke enough to say “Thank you.” as her teeth chattered. 

I knelt in close to her and said softly, “Jesus loves you just as you are.”  She nodded her head as one who knows such a fact as fact would do so.  

And she slept.

**********


Diane

In the early days of her time on the street, she attended Mass every single day as much as she possibly could.  She told me last night that she has not been to Mass for quite some time and misses it.

Diane cries as she thinks about doing what she feels she must do to raise funds for her addiction that she despises. Each and every time she references what she needs to do, she tears up and refers to such moments as leaving to go humiliate herself.

This young lady is something of a fine porcelain doll in appearance. She appears as though she could be easily broken. Her lifestyle requires her to be on guard for her own physical safety at all times. She carries a knife and has had to threaten to use it a few times as 'men' have tried to do unspeakable things to her.

About a week ago one of the students from the Studies in Urban Ministry Program at Urban Hope Church gave me a Christian book called Jesus Calling for me to give to a specific person within Emerald City.  I knew Diane would love this book. I found her about an hour later. When I handed it to her and she saw the title, tears ran down her cheeks. She knows how much her Lord loves her. 

Please pray for Diane.
**********

I share these blogs with you at this sad time to bear witness to Diane's Christian Faith.  Diane's Commitment to her Christ and her Substance Use Disorder occupied equal space within her being.  One did not cancel out the other.  It is in this fact that we can know that our "Diane" moved to Heaven during this Holy Week and is with her Savior in Heaven as we mourn this first week of knowing she is gone from this earth but not from our hearts.

Diane's first week in Heaven is the most holy[3] of weeks in God's Church.  What a fantastic first Sunday for Diane to worship her King in the King's presence - Easter!  This Easter Sunday, please consider attending a church if for no other reason than to honor our friend whose life lives on in our hearts and in the presence of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

For those of you in Kensington, I invite you to join me - and I could really use your presence this week - at Urban Hope Church, 210 East Tioga (Tioga and A Street).  Our worship starts at 11:15 am with a special Easter breakfast beforehand at 10:00am. 

Final Thought: 

As I sit here at my computer on this rainy Saturday morning, I can't help but envision Diane on her first Friday in Heaven and our "Good Friday" the day we remembered the Crucifixion of Christ.  I can easily see her giving God and Jesus a hug, looking at each one and saying "Thank you.  How are you?"  She would really want to know. 




[1] Diane always asked not because it's a custom in our culture.  She always asked because she always really wanted to know. 
[2] Diane read every blog in which she was mentioned by "name" and thanked me for telling her story.
[3] dedicated or set apart for religious purposes, devoted to the service of God, relating to, belonging to, or coming from a divine being or power

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