I happen to be working the overnight shift at the shelter tonight. It’s not something I usually do as one of the pastors, but this season, with a pandemic and short staffing- we do what we need to, to keep the doors open.
I am used to different rhythms in this space. The mornings where the sun streams in the stained glass windows in the office and the silence is broken by the doorbell chimes and the ringing of the phone. We bounce between big dreams and the minute details of daily shelter life, talking, laughing, occasionally crying and often swearing. The day moves quickly and our lists seem to grow instead of shrink.
In the evenings, the space is alive with noise and chaos. Conversations, food, volunteers, raised voices, laughter, and doors slamming shut on their hinges. Staff and volunteers hustle down the halls, meeting one need and then the next. On good nights, the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly. On harder nights there is tension and a sense of caution. The evening moves along quickly- there isn’t ever time to stop and reflect.
At 2:30 am in the shelter, the pace is uniquely its own. The halls are quiet. The automatic lights all turn off as there is no one there to trigger their sensors. Every so often the quiet is interrupted with the soft click of a door closing and someone will amble their way to the bathroom or stop to check out what remains on the snack table. There is a peace in this space that is palpable and tonight, in all the chaos of this season, it reminds me of one of the reasons we do what we do.
As I look at the “bed board” with the names of those sleeping in each room, I pray. I pray for the restoration that sleep can bring. I give thanks that each of them has found this place, this respite, this quiet. I pray for the things that keep them up at night and the things that bring them peace. I pray for this sense of stillness and middle of the night calm to gentle their trauma, heal their pain, restore their hope. I pray for the work of this place. I pray for our stamina and our patience as we ride out our most difficult season yet. The deepest part of the night is truly holy…. -Pastor Erica