By Sylvia Broome, Sweet Auburn Community Facilitator
Recently our Remerge Art community was meeting at Krispy Kreme, our place of choice during cold and rainy weather. We were enjoying donuts and hot coffee, sharing stories and coloring in the Art Atl coloring books given to us by William Massey, our staff art leader, and one of the creators of the coloring book. It was a regular day, and we talked and laughed and enjoyed each other’s company.
As we were there, I saw a woman, heavy laden with bags and a backpack sitting at a nearby table. She plugged in her phone to charge and sat with her head down, a wall thick as steel around her. I knew from experience that she was homeless and I watched her for a while. I didn’t think she wanted to talk, but I decided to take a chance anyway. I brought her a donut and coffee and set it down in front of her. She didn’t take it, but didn’t refuse. I sat down to talk to her. She shared, I listened. A complicated story of abuse, abandonment, and rejection. I invited her to join us at our table but she refused. I stayed and continued to talk and listen. Finally, she decided to come to our table. She seemed a little resigned, perhaps I had worn her down? She smiled a little, but the wall was still up.
She sat, and William offered her a coloring book. Someone gave her a few pencils and she looked at the book. She said she wasn’t an artist, and William told her that we are all artists! A smile. She picked up a pencil.
One of our community members joined us – a lively, talkative woman who has never met a stranger. She sat across from the woman and encouraged her, not only to color but encouraged her emotionally. It took a little while, but when I glanced over I saw that they were both laughing, sharing, and coloring like old friends. The wall was gone and it was like they had known each other forever.
When things wound down and we were packing up, she looked at me and thanked me for including her in our group. A fellow next to her laughed and said it’s not just our group, it’s yours too! People chimed in and said the same thing. They all had been in her position before, an outsider with a wall, lonely and left out. They had been welcomed and wanted to share that welcome with her.
It was a beautiful sight to see her smile. She looked relaxed and happy. She made plans to meet with up with us when we got together again.
How easy would it have been to let her sit alone in the corner. But Jesus tells us to welcome the stranger in our midst, and to consider others better than ourselves. We believe this and we live this, because we have all been strangers. We are interconnected as the family of God, and what hurts others, hurts us. But when someone rejoices, we do too. We are better people when we connect our lives with others.
We love because God first loved us. He teaches us to love and we share that love with one another. Even in a place as unexpected as Krispy Kreme over something as simple as a coloring book. Great things happen when lives are joined.