dwell in the margins, with soup and broken bread.
Somedays I am poor in spirit.
I am poor, somedays.
But we are fed by a community of friends and a church that’s not our own—they have adopted us. I have received many meals, slightly abashed and always humbled. I feel undeserving of this love, because I know there are many others that need this food too. But someone saw the need and met it. I tell myself to receive, they tell me to receive, when they drop off hot dinner, with no strings attached. Humbled tears threaten to pour forth each time I open the bags.
Inside I find tinfoil lids and handwritten instructions, leftover yogurt containers chock full of soup, telling little details about strangers; they eat organic, they like full fat. There are still warm cookies wrapped up, homemade bread and the best raspberry tarts ever from JJ Bean. Plus, there were care packages we received last time we were in the hospital. No one asked, no one assumed we were already being taken care of. It was just love and practicality, plus a little bit of sweet extravagance, like dried flowers for Flo, tiny magenta rose buds for her to finger, a tin of fancy hot chocolate and bundles of teas, banana bread and a pot of local honey.
Yes, it’s just food and we are adults and can order takeout or throw another frozen pizza in the oven on off days, but when I stir someone else’s dinner, it’s more than beef stew and cabbage soup. It’s community in action, without asking. It’s love that is tangible, allowing nothing in return. There’s no exchange here. It’s just me, humbly receiving food and whispering thank you.
We have a wonderful community that doesn’t pity us, that serves us like we aren’t special, but simply because that’s what the Church is called to do. They are teaching their children to pray too, to love all and count everyone in. Although my heart aches that Florence can’t be there in Sunday school, in fact, she has barely interacted with these little ones, I am blown away by these extended little hands, by fingertips on a screen. All over this world, there are wee ones mumbling “bless and heal baby Flo,” pouring forth their hearts to the King. Their prayers are valuable and they are shifting atmospheres.
In my low moments, I feel like we don’t belong anywhere, and integrating into society, particularly as parents, is really difficult. I suppose this puts us on the outside, in the margins. The world does not cater to her. Exclusion happens often, and it always stings. To be frank, we don’t get out and do much as a family. But we feel much.
Many people (mostly strangers) don’t know what to do, or say or think when they see Florence. They stare at her beautiful face, and then take a second look, over the shoulder. And again until they meet my gaze. They are trying to figure her out, and that’s okay, but this mama sees it, every time. It gets old.
There are very few safe places for her. Playgrounds are not made for children with physical issues or special needs (at least not on a consistent basis, and not near us). We are also unintentionally excluded from “special needs” playgroups. The last one we went to was in a pool and Florence was about 6 months old. The instructor said “splash your hands!” and “pass the ball!” and “look at me!” Florence could do none of those things, in fact she could barely hold her head up. I left in tears, practically ran out of there, chlorinated hair left wet and tangled. I felt so angry and rejected by the parents, by the organization that sent us there. I remember that cold feeling, that I was lost on this journey and no one understood us, not even those that were trying to help.
But you know what? Most of the world lives here, in these places, in the margins.
The broke, the addict, the sick, the needy, the woman, the immigrant, the new church-goer—I think we all belong here. We are all just people, with similar stories and hurts. No one is weaker or stronger than the other, we just manifest in different ways. It’s real and holy and humbling here. There are very few facades. This openness and brokenness leaves us wide open to receive, and in turn, to give.
This is where Jesus spent His time on earth: in the mish mash, with oil on his fingers, dipping bread with the fringe folk, breaking the moulds into fine powder clay.
And this is where He gathers the dust, forming it into something new and beautiful, something He made.
There are no margins here, just love.
I’m linking up with SheLoves Magazine, for November.