Fr. Rusty’s Blog
It is September 11th and a time to remember. To this day I can remember what I was doing and the impact of watching NBC news with Matt and Katie. I always get to the office really early and that morning I had just finished my second cup of coffee and heard the T.V. in the background, “A plane has hit one of the towers.”
I often think back on that day and the impact it has had on all of us… a loss of safety and innocence that continues to make us a little more afraid when we travel or perhaps too vigilant when we are visiting another country and aggravated when we are taking off shoes, belts and rings to get through security. Those moments and those actions changed us all and I think it is important for us as a community of faith to remember the impact and recognize our ability to play a role in transforming moments of loss.
Each year I attempt to remember September 11th by doing things that change my world for good and bring light. It allows me to transform that moment of loss into a moment of grace.
*Last night I cleared out my closet of clothing I did not need… this morning I gave those items to our shelter. *This morning I called a person who dislikes me and reconnected… still not on the same page but able to listen to each other with respect. *Today I am going to make out a check to an organization that makes life better for someone else… For me it will be St. Martin’s. *I am going to work this afternoon in our shelter… be with people who are not remembering September 11 for what happened in the past but just trying to survive today. *Tonight I am going to hold my family in my arms and give thanks that they are safe. *Before I go to bed tonight I am going to whisper to God how thankful I am for all that I have.
And, Today I will remember September 11th by trying to make light happen in dark places… remembering grace is always possible!
Pass it on!
Fr. Rusty September 11, 2013
Dear Friends of St. Martin’s,
Welcome to our third annual Stone Soup Dinner 2013… “What does hope look like?”
Have you ever given thought to the role that Hope plays in your life? What would your life be like without hope?
So many of the clients of St. Martin’s are familiar with expressions like, “lost hope”, “hopeless” or “given up hope.” Can you imagine your life without hope? At. St. Martin’s we understand the critical role that Hope plays in the lives of our clients as they survive and over-come challenging and difficult times… HOPE is often that one thread that keeps our clients alive.
The mission of St. Martin’s recognizes the importance of Hope in partnership with Help… “to assist homeless and near homeless people by providing resources, opportunities and Hope.” We asked some of our clients, “What does hope look like for you?”
- “A warm meal served by someone who doesn’t look down on you.”
- “A pair of clean socks without any holes and shoes that fit.”
- “The chance to work.”
- “My therapist. He helps me understand… me.”
- “My case worker who nags, pushes and encourages me.”
- “A place to sleep that is safe and belongs to me.”
- “Someone to care about me when I feel alone.”
What does Hope look like? For people experiencing homelessness their list is pretty basic and simple but only made possible by people like you. Your generosity makes Hope possible!
With our deep gratitude for your partnership in Help and Hope!
Someone recently came to my office and told me, “I am homeless.” I was caught off-guard at the simplicity and power of this statement. You don’t know me or anything about me, but “I am homeless” and that is the only thing you need to know. Was it the circumstances or struggles of his life that made him self-identify as “homeless only?” Or had someone told him, “You are without a place to live and that make you only ‘homeless’?” This is something we all do and it allows us to use a social short-hand; but what if that identifier became the definition of who we are allowed to be and become?
The person who came to my office had been a teacher for over 15 years, loved jazz, had 3 grown kids and had once owned a home and had a dog named Max. His lack of a home did not define or explain who he is, what he had accomplished or what he could still become. The self-definition of “I am homeless” seems strangely like a life sentence instead of a stage of walking through a challenge. Would I want to be only defined by my mistakes or by the challenges that confront me?
I have been thinking about this for weeks. This morning I was attending a Quality Assurance Committee meeting and we reviewed our client consumer satisfaction surveys which we send out to our clients monthly so they can tell us if we are doing a good job and how we can improve our services. A response from one of our clients made me reflect even more deliberately on my encounter with the client in my office. The question on the survey was number 4: “I was treated fairly and with respect.” This client responded simply and profoundly, ”I was homeless but not treated as such.”
You were not treated as such because homeless is a condition of your housing and not a lifelong definition of who you are. I was so deeply moved that one of our clients had felt the impact of our staff and volunteers all attempting to say, “You are more than your housing condition or your problems.” To the staff and volunteers of St. Martin’s…job well done!
August 30, 2012
I have a complaint… my life is too difficult!
I came to work today and discovered an ocean of all the reasons that prevented me/us from having a good day at work… bad weekend, too hot, had to work Sunday, weeds to pull, did not feel well, family worries, the weekend is over and on and on and on. I felt myself comfortably walking and drowning in our bad day. We all seemed to vote that today was just too difficult!
Then I left our first meeting of the day and I walked down the stairs of our behavioral health center and through the waiting area for our day shelter. I was surrounded by people grateful to be at St. Martin’s, grateful to have a place to come and grateful to have a place to feel loved. As I looked at the people that we served living in the most difficult of circumstances… I woke up- my very worst day would be a good day for most of the people that we serve at St. Martin’s. Most would welcome a long weekend if they could stay in a home and enjoy enough to eat. Most of our clients would relish a weekend with family and all of our clients would celebrate a job and would be grateful for the opportunity to pull some weeds or clean their house. Self-pity often grows from the soil of having too much and taking too much for granted. If you have nothing… a good cup of coffee and a welcoming smile can feel like the foundation of a great day. Today our clients taught me an attitude of gratitude. Today I will work on gratitude!
It has been a long and hard road this last 2 month for the community of St. Martin’s… at our All Staff meeting last week I think most of us felt overwhlemed with sadness and loss. In the last several months we have lost 8 of our clients… people that we call family. In the middle of our remembering of those that we had lost a powerful Hope gave us comfort- these amazing people that struggled and fought to leave the streets and make their lives better did not die alone and many of them died in a place they could call home. The staff and volunteers of St. Martin’s helped make that “Family and Home” happen for them. The fact that a room full of St. Martin’s staff gather to remember and miss them expresses our heart-felt unspoken mission… “You are not alone and we will do everything we can to help you find your way back home.” I think this is what Hope looks like and the staff of St. Martin’s will remember faces and smiles and struggles and courage and challenges and people…that belong to us. They are family.
Please join with us in remembering those that have died in the last two months.
Blessings, Fr. Rusty
August 2, 2011
Holiday Miracles… Have you seen any miracles lately?
When I was a kid I always believed that this was a season of miracles… something magical could happen when dreams and prayers mixed with people caring about each other.
At St. Martin’s we not only believe in miracles but we get to see them daily…
“A meal offered to someone who has been hit by hard times.”
“A family given a place to stay for the week.”
“Someone desperate for a job being given an opportunity to work.”
“A person sick and tired of using drugs finding a place to recover, housing and a second chance.”
“Someone lost on the streets, afraid and alone… discovering people and a place that care and will help.”
During this holy season please join the staff and volunteers of St. Martin’s… find a way to make miracles happen by expressions of your care.
December 2, 2010
Yesterday St. Martin’s celebrated 25 years of helping people who are struggling to escape the streets and survive the streets.
It is strange to use a word like celebrate when you are connected to people at the lowest and most difficult time in their lives… St. Martin’s doors will be open as long as there is one person struggling to leave the streets and our real celebration will come on that day when our doors close… and all of our clients have found homes. That will be our real day of celebration!
“I am not invisible! The eyes you see belong to me.” A clients poem.
You are not invisible to us… we see you and we care. We promise to be here until you find your way home.
Fr. Rusty and the amazing staff of St. Martin’s