Making space in the manger
In recent weeks, we have watched a particularly notorious Micah guest attempt to repair five years worth of disintegrating relationships. The library, a local gymnasium, a number of area businesses and even her family had cut off ties in response to her boisterously disruptive behavior. She’d picked up criminal charges— a few nuisance violations, a trespassing or two and an assault on an officer.
At times, even the agencies trying to help her had been left with little choice than to dismiss her from their facilities. But the more the community isolated her, the more volatile became her symptoms. She grew angrier and louder. Her self-appointment as the spokesperson for her homeless peers turned radical, even threatening. Feeling ignored and stripped of personhood, she waltzed into a Micah church one Sunday, intent on being heard.
Just in time for the sermon she rose from the congregation, rolled out a sleeping bag and unleashed a number of choice words to convey the plight of Fredericksburg’s homeless.
The following morning, the church pastor faced a critical decision. In the interest of safety for his congregation he, too, considered banning this Micah guest from his church building. Instead, he made up his mind to assist Micah staff in finding a way to help the woman. By the end of the week, she was hospitalized and required to take medications.
Within the month she had stepped down to Micah’s respite home, which cares for homeless individuals when they are discharged from the hospital. She realized how sick she really was, and a new person emerged before our eyes. She reunited with family, paid off fines, regained her driver’s license, became remarkably motivated to comply with doctor’s appointments.
She set goals—seeking disability, but only temporarily, going back to school, earning a nursing degree and finding a way to productively address the needs of the community’s homeless. Last week, our Micah guest settled into permanent housing with ample support to achieve any number of the goals she has set for herself.
On this day of Christ’s birth, the story of Mary and Joseph’s search for a room reminds us of the choices we have when facing our neighbors in need. Yes, its easier to declare “no room in the inn,” especially for the unruly, the burdened and destitute. But when we make up our minds to find space in the manger, the true face of Christ has the opportunity to emerge.
Thank you for the doors you have opened to Micah and its guests in 2013, whether it’s your checkbook, your calendar or boxes of toiletries. It is your kindness that gives us the power to create spaces for ALL people to lay their heads.