All they wanted was a pair of rounded scissors. I had two pairs in my bag, but I couldn’t bring them out. Those are the rules. No scissors; no sharp objects. We were gathered with women rebuilding their lives. They came from residential treatment facilities, homeless shelters, halfway houses - to join us for a Recovery Retreat facilitated by MiddleWay.
The women love expressive arts and sometimes that's creating a "vision board". Our theme this day was "I want my life to look like..." Each woman created a collage which represented their lives post-treatment, post-homelessness, post acute addiction. This is an inexpensive but potent therapy. The women spent time using art supplies to engage in 'play therapy' to represent their deepest desires, working with color pencils, chalk, clippings, crayons, and glue sticks - such simple things - to build a picture of their best lives.
Working with homeless, abused, and extremely poor women allows us to witness how they take the slimmest opportunities and transform them into such big life changes: from dropout to high school graduate, from unemployed to employee, from addict to woman in recovery, from surviving to thriving. And they do it all on a shoestring, a hope, a 'vision-board' of their future, and a hand reaching out to grab theirs.
We stand in awe.
The women who come to Recovery Retreats remind us of the words of Father Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries in LA, the largest gang-intervention program in the United States. Fr. Greg says, "May we stand in awe at the weight of the burden carried by the poor, instead of criticizing the way they carry it."
We stand in awe today, marveling at the resiliency of the women who are creating lives they want to live in side by side with women from across the county with hope and torn paper.