Imagine yourself taking a long, arduous journey. You’re alone, tired, and people look away as you pass. Over this journey, companions come and go; some leave a bitter taste in your mouth, while others leave a hole in your heart, but each makes it more difficult for you to trust. Survival informs your daily tasks: food, shelter, safety, and a place to sleep. Ahh, sleep, to really lie down on something soft, knowing you’ll be dry all night, and when morning comes there will be a cup of coffee before another day gathers its light.
Finally, you come to a place of refuge, are welcomed into the warmth, and given a seat. Your heart begins to hope that this might be something different from everything you’ve come to know. As you look around, you see smiles and hear laughter, and someone tells you that if you ask, you can get a pair of clean, dry socks and a shower. There are many people here. It’s crowded and seems friendly, busy, and strange. Some cast cautious glances and keep their backs to the wall, while others come and go, exchanging jokes and conversation freely, almost like at a family reunion. There’s that warmth again. You are attracted to this place, and that scares you. Reminded of other places to which you have previously been drawn, only to have your heart slashed and scarred. It would be so much easier to just stay in the lonely, dark places of your own isolated heart.
As these thoughts fragment through your head, a man detaches himself from the crowd and approaches with a smile and an outstretched hand. He offers his name and asks if there is anything he can do for you. His greeting is calm, and he has an unhurried manner that seems to allow you the freedom to stay hidden inside. Over the next few days and weeks, you find he is easy to visit with, to open up to, and you can relax. He listens and offers to pray with you, for you, and over you. It seems that he is completely at ease here, though you’ve suspected on occasion that his eyes moistened as you recounted certain parts of your story. He listens like one who has been here and knows his way around, and the crazy thing is he is happiest when he is sitting with you!
It becomes easy to stay, but harder to keep talking and trusting, and you start to wonder when the penny’s going to drop. But it feels so good to no longer be alone. Through this man you have met others, and there has started to grow inside a flickering feeble hope that you might not have to be alone to face your demons any longer. You are amazed at how close you came to leaving until you met the chaplain.
Lighthouse Mission is excited to announce the addition of a paid part-time Chaplain for the Overflow Shelter and Men’s Shelter. For many years, we’ve longed to have a staff member available for the exclusive purpose of connecting with the people who show up at the Mission’s doorstep. The guests entering our walk-in shelter regularly come right off the street, and have frequently been through a gamut of frightening and de-stabilizing experiences. They are burdened, often traumatized, and desperate to simply talk with someone who will listen and can offer hope. With the addition of an on-site chaplain 24 hours a week, there will now be a trained, pastoral counselor dedicated to doing just that. It’s our goal to restore hope in the lives of the people who come to us. Now, the ability to more quickly connect with those experiencing homelessness, to offer them that hope as they walk in the door, is a reality. Thank you for your part in establishing this vital position here in Bellingham!