Laura Menze, Lydia’s House Occupational Therapist On the afternoon of the opening of the Virginia Coffey Place, I walked through the units and turned on lights before making the final descent with the mop bucket, kicking off my boots wary of getting them wet. Mopping those steep stairs for all the attendees was a christening of that space, but not in the champagne over the bow of a ship or the baptism sort of christening, both unique and singular events, rather it was a christening of a life lived in that space, a life that will include sweeping and mopping
Our proud graduate (middle) from Dohn Community High School! Guests, volunteers, staff and family members gathered to celebrate her success. And, of course, there was a celebratory house dinner complete with homemade hot fudge cake at the graduate’s special request. Proud graduate and son strike a pose. The birthday girl, all smiles, dressed up for her party at Lydia’s House. Groundhog’s Day: A wacky, annual tradition at Lydia’s House. Because who doesn’t need a reason to celebrate in February? We played games, the kids ran around in (lots of) circles. Anne made chocolate mousse with a Groundhog landscape on top
A few months ago, folks were getting antsy. We were all swirling around in the doldrums and getting a little uncomfortable. Then Meridith pointed out, “It’s February.” A sort-of-stuck season, just on the edge of coming back to life and warmth in spring. And listen, she was right. Flowers are unfurling, seedlings are thrusting up from the dirt, and the house seems refreshed and lively. Two young boys have joined the community, and they are energizing the whole house.
Just a few days ago, the boys moved to Lydia’s House with their mother, who is expecting a baby girl at the end of May. She was grateful to receive a whole load of adorable baby clothes and other necessities from a former guest. I love watching community work this way. But this isn’t the only baby we’re expecting! There’s also a baby boy on the way. His mom-to-be is feathering her nest with all the things her baby will need, while completing her GED, taking parenting classes, and meeting with Every Child Succeeds. Marykate has generously volunteered to be her doula.
We continue walking with our Congolese guest on the long road of her asylum process, and are working hard to learn sign language and communicate better with her. We’ve really appreciated weekly ASL lessons from our high school volunteer, Caroline. Our house outings this season have included ‘Deaf Day’ at the Aquarium, trips to the Art Museum, and breakfast at Sugar & Spice. And we’re excited to see the butterflies at the Krohn Conservatory soon! A guest and her baby daughter have transitioned to the Lincoln Grant Scholar House. She’s the second of our guests to have moved into this new supportive housing development for single parents pursuing a college degree. We’re so thrilled to see both of these young moms thrive and grow towards their goals.
During our March worship service, some young friends of Lydia’s House helped Mary Ellen re-enact a key moment in the personal and political foundation of Jesus’ ministry: the arrest of John the Baptist. Mary Ellen’s sermon asked us to reflect on our own calls to action– to think of those close to us who face injustice and make the personal political in building God’s beloved community. We sang together “I Saw the Light” and other Lenten favorites performed by the fabulous new girl band of Marykate, Taylor, and Deb. At the service we also celebrated many achievements in our community and formally welcomed Deb Koch as a new associate. We thanked Marykate for her time with us as an associate and shepherded her transition to community farmer. For the rest of the season, she’ll be growing food for Lydia’s House and for Norwood.
We’ve had some special birthdays this season, as well as a few “celebrations of belovedness”. These celebrations mark a guest’s first 60 days at Lydia’s House. On these occasions, we gather ’round the table like at our regular dinner, but with streamers overhead and a tiny bell at each place setting. After dinner, and a home-made dessert, we take some time to share. Each person speaks to the celebrated one seated at the head of the table, sharing memories and observations, affirmations and praise. We see and name each other’s kindness, wisdom, strength, grace, humor. It is easy to get lost in the scuffle and pettiness of everyday life, but we are brought to the table together each day, and fed, and held, in love. For centuries the church has marked special occasions with the ringing of bells, and so after each person speaks we ring our little silver bells, turning our collective joy into a bright sound. Then, the celebrated one is given a special blessing, and a small gift: a silver napkin ring, engraved with her name. So she will always have a place at the table.
✨ Photos courtesy of Julianna Boehm http://www.juliannaboehm.com/ ✨
Almost every day there are reports of new ways our elected officials are making the lives of poor women harder as they struggle to find affordable housing, living wage work, childcare, education, and healthcare. Many of us at Lydia’s House have been frequent callers to the state and D.C. offices of our senators and representatives in the last weeks. With the daily calls we are getting increasingly familiar with the answering staffers: “Hey! It’s me again! Just calling back to urge you not to gut healthcare for millions of vulnerable women and children. Also, it’s really important to me that our senator doesn’t
By Mary Ellen Mitchell Often when we speak of religious or churchy terms like hope, faith or joy (the kinds of words we use a lot during Advent) we need to remind ourselves that, in some mysterious way, there are two worlds that we live in at the same time. You’re thinking “she’s crazy.” But let me use a metaphor I know my kids are familiar with. In Harry Potter Harry usually lives between the land of muggles and the land of wizards. There are muggle things like telephones that make no sense to wizards and wizard things like Quiddich