It's humbling to be with people who have few possessions yet practice the art of gratitude. That's what it's like to be with homeless women when they leave their temporary homes - residential treatment facilities, homeless shelters, halfway houses - and come to 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..." The women gathered to create 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 see them work with so few material things to create such big 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.