Unexpected Loveliness

I received a beautiful card yesterday in the mail.

A woman I’ve known off and on for many years, a cousin of dear friends, sent it to me.

It was an unexpectedly lovely gesture.

Beyond the beauty of the card, and her reason for picking it, just for me, was the loveliness of her words.

They touched my heart deeply.

I am blessed.

I have been writing an ‘almost daily’ blog for over 10 years. Mark Kolke @ Musings got me into it. “You need a practice,” he said. Or something to that effect. You need to get in the habit of writing everyday.

He was right.

At the time, I’d just begun working at an adult homeless shelter. A large one. Every night almost 1,000 men and women slept under its roof.

It was life changing.

Like writing an ‘almost daily’ blog.

Both have taught me about being me. About how to be authentically human. About how to hold space for others to find their way without getting in their way, or thinking I know ‘their way’. And in that space, how we can both find the common ground of being human, without having to make the other a mirror of how we express our humanity.

Last night, at a fundraiser held in support of the family emergency shelter and housing organization where I work, I met a young man who spent two summers during university working at the same adult singles shelter where I used to work.

“It changed my life,” he said.

I’m with him.

Everyday, people arrive at a homeless shelter carrying their meagre belongings along with an invisible load of angst and fear.

Everyday, shelters across the country give them a place to rest, a place to catch their breath, a place to find their way home again or a place to find a new direction.

In their passing through, they touch hearts and change lives.

Through their brokenness, fierceness, courage, unflaggable desire to live, they give those of  us who have the gift of working in such places, lessons in the power of kindness, the inescapable value of compassion and the beauty of our shared human condition in its multifaceted dimensions.

Like Evelyn, a 70 something woman who stayed at the shelter where I used to work. Cantankerous and feisty, she would occasionally take her pension cheque when it arrived, go to the Greyhound bus depot and travel across the country until her money ran out. At the end of the line she’d do something ‘that got the police called’, and voilá! She had a place to stay for the night. Inevitably, the end of the line would become the beginning of her journey back here until she felt the calling to set out on a journey to somewhere else.

When she passed away, staff discovered a treasure trove of poetry she’d written tucked away in her belongings.

Unexpected loveliness revealed.

While her mental health and addictions trapped her far away from the family she loved, her poetic words told the story of a woman whose love for them never died. A woman who recognized how her mind was playing tricks on her well-being but who never had the resources, or opportunity, to find help, until no one saw she needed help. By then, her family and the life she’d known was gone and the only place she could find where she felt she ‘belonged’, was a homeless shelter.

I received a beautiful card filled with words of affirmation yesterday.

Unexpected loveliness revealed.

An unexpected gift with words to fill my heart with gratitude.

I am so blessed.


Thank you IM for your amazing gift. You touched my heart, stirred my soul and raised my spirits with your unexpected loveliness.


5 thoughts on “Unexpected Loveliness

  1. hmm …. thanks for the mention! Yes, it does change us – the people we meet, the issues/problems/challenges we confront and ‘that blank page’ each morning … it begs us to spill our thoughts and feelings and fears. I’m so glad we’ve collided in life. Keep writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Some time, find a beautiful book titled “Pictures in the Fire.” Found on a scrap of paper in the pocket of a man who had just passed away in a Chicago poor house, it’s a last will and testament, leaving the fields of play to the children and moonlit nights to lovers, and to the old, pictures in the fire. Absolutely one of the most beautiful poems I have ever read — I’ve not been able to get through it without totally dissolving since long before I knew I would ever be homeless…

    Liked by 1 person

    • That sounds beautiful and something I shall definitely look for Ana. Thank you — I remember sitting with people at the shelter as they wrote their last will and testament — I couldn’t dissolve while with them, but man, did I ever give myself the grace of tears afterwards. Hugs my friend. ❤


      • I think your shelter is much more engaged and compassionate than anything we have here. The thought of a worker in one of our shelters sitting down with any client for any reason other than to shuffle them off to another “program” is so outside the bounds of likihood as to ellicit a grim chuckle.


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