Monday, March 11, 2019
Less than a week ago, my friend asked for prayer.
My friend is an advocate and leader in anti-trafficking---a woman on the front lines.
She had committed to assisting a woman caught in a dangerous web.
The prayer was for the first step: moving the woman (let's call her Willow) out of the neighborhood where her car had been stolen and her apartment had been burglarized. My friend's husband would assist. A third volunteer was desirable; none were available.
I'll go, I offered.
Less than an hour later, in a neighborhood unfamiliar to me, carrying hastily packed boxes and bags from an apartment, I found myself praying in the chaos that God would help us take with us the things that mattered most.
Willow's mattress was rolled and pushed into the backseat of one vehicle. The sturdy wood bed frame miraculously fit in the hatchback of my car. Bedding, swiftly packed clothing, kitchen essentials, personal care products and other necessities filled a third car. Occasional tables and painted canvasses, revealing Willow as an artist, were gently added. I prayed again. So much was being left behind!
In the 90 minute window allotted, the plan unfolded. Willow packed and we loaded for 40 minutes. Then, Willow locked the apartment and left with a trusted advocate to get the keys to her new place. Meanwhile we drove 9.6 miles to the new apartment attempting to avoid rush hour traffic. We arrived ahead of Willow and unloaded. Then we waited.
In the waiting, time was unrestricted. Feeling unnerved I asked my friend about the chaos, the reality of so much being left behind, the undermining of Willow's humanity --- her sense of safety.
My friend was comforting and encouraging, and openly shared about similar moving experiences... the necessity of an escape plan, the need for vigilance. And, how God changes our lives, the provision of her current home where she feels safe.
Her honesty left me with the realization that this is the first time -- as a person whose life was predominantly safely middle class married -- that I am personally engaging the silent threat of chaos.
A few months ago I stored a nylon cinch sack near the safe that holds my passport and other documents, determining that if escape were necessary (natural disaster or human threat) I could walk cross-country the 3 miles to my son and daughter-in-law's house.
In recent days I find myself pondering, in Hollywood apocalyptic style: What else is essential to take with me?
From my growing library (153 books counted today) I am selecting these books: The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough 1977, The Shack by William Paul Young 2007, The Transforming Friendship by Leslie D. Weatherhead 1928, and Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell 2005.
I am a flawed, human and fragile encourager, a speaker and writer of words.
My spiritual gift is exhortation.
Willow is gifted. She is an artist.
In the chaos she chose to bring her paintings.
I will bring four books.