My friend Paul would often show up at Sanctuary in the clothes that he wore to work because that’s where he was coming from. That meant that they were covered in dirt and paint. I would poke fun at him by saying, “Paul, you have something on your shirt.” He would look down in shock before realizing I was talking about the paint smears on the front of his shirt that were permanently stained there. This joke never failed to amuse us.
The other day on the subway, I saw a guy in his work clothes. He was covered in paint smears. The first thing that came to my mind was the joke about him having something on his shirt. I immediately thought of Paul and my heart ached for my friendship with him. I miss him all the time.
It has been a tough year. I’ve heard this over and over from my colleagues and I know it to be true. Between The Dale and Sanctuary we have lost too many friends this year than I can count on one hand, maybe even two. It’s becoming hard to keep count, and that’s a bad thing. My colleagues are tired. My communities are grieving. We can barely stop missing one person before quickly losing another, often having two memorials simultaneously.
Please pray for us. Pray that we will find strength to miss people well. Pray that the loss will stop soon. Pray that people stop dying of living outside, from preventable deaths, and tragedy. Loosing friends to old age is hard enough, let alone to murder, overdose, cancer, lack of affordable housing.
I am sad. I am trying to remember my friends well and hold the heaviness and joy of the lives they lived and how much they are missed now that they’re gone. I don’t know exactly how to do this well but what I can do is try. I can pray for healing, I can cry, I can remember. And I know that this is really hard, for me and for my colleagues who came before me who have lost so many more. Please pray for their hearts. Let us help each other hold the weight.
I don’t know how to end this one, and I know it’s pretty heavy. I don’t write this for any kind of sympathy. I think part of me knew when I started writing that I needed to ask for prayer for us all at The Dale and Sanctuary. I never thought I would attend so many funerals or memorials in my lifetime. They never get easier. Hold us in your prayers as we go into next week – there are two memorials happening one day after another.
Peace to you, and peace to me. I’ll be praying. Please join me.