So much for great plans to write once a week and take you on at least a bi-weekly ministry journey with Shelter Church and the Shelter. I guess I have just been too busy doing ministry to take time to write about it.
We are in the throws of a very busy shelter season. If I had to give this season a title, it would be MORE. More mental health crisis, more layers of trauma, more need, more staffing issues, more worry, more blizzards. Not all the more has been bad- all those hard mores are being met with some great things too- more staff stepping up, more funding, more big dreams, more partners, more clarity, more boundaries. Seven years into this calling and most of the time, the good and the tough balance out. I will fully admit that I do sort of feel a bit like Jesus in the picture- grabbing a moment of peace while my hair remains on fire.
Life at the drop in office continues to shift and change. We seem to go through extremes- a full reception area and phones ringing off the hook while people bring in donations; balanced by stretches of complete quiet where we can sink into the more mundane tasks of running a shelter and a tiny but mighty congregation. Just yesterday I had a past guest drop in. I was staffing the office by myself and it had been busy. Sometimes this guest can take up a lot of time, but I could tell that they really needed a little one on one to catch up with a life that was spinning. As we talked ( well, mostly I just listened) this guest stopped in mid sentence and looked at me and around the space. "Wow. I just realized that this is the calmest I have felt all day. You are really listening to me, aren't you? Even when I don't make sense to you or me!" We both chuckled and they told me that this time and space was a much needed oasis in a really hard day.
In the evening, I spent a little time at the shelter. It was the annual PIT count. A nation wide count of those experiencing homelessness at a certain point in time. I was in the shelter to count who was homeless but not without shelter. I was also able to have some crucial conversations with a few guests. Our favorite phrase for this season is "Watch your own bobber" because we have a shelter full of busybodies. I needed to have some bobber conversations. One individual, after finally hearing what I was saying said to me, "You sure tell it like it is. But you know, sometimes that is the only way we will hear it. I am kind of mad at you for calling me out, but more than likely it's exactly what I needed to hear." This has come up a few times in my ministry life lately. Being the one to say the hard things that need to be said- but doing it with a dose of care and concern. It's something I am growing more and more into and it is beginning to spark some ideas for what might be next after this chapter. Fear not- its a slow growing edge.
All of this to say- the sassy pastor is still pastoring. Tending to the More and the Mundane with my sass firmly intact. I hope to spend a little more time here in the weeks to come. In the mean time....watch your own bobber.