The other night, I was woken by the sound of crying. Standing in sleepy disorientation I couldn’t quite figure out where it was coming from, but I knew it was close. I looked out my windows, and peeped out the little glass panes on my door, but I could see nothing. I was about to go back to bed but heard it once more. I woke up my husband, and when he opened the door to take a look, we discovered a neighbor and her daughter sitting on our front step, crying and cold. I will spare the details of the long night, other than to say that as I sat with this woman, and my husband sat with her husband back at their home, the stories of pain, loss, hopelessness, shame, anger and sadness were absolutely heart wrenching.
Living and loving in the community you reside is messy business. It’s hard, it hurts, it costs. It might not end the way we hope. It’s uncomfortable sometimes. There is beauty, undoubtedly, but there is also a great deal of pain.
In the course of our conversation, the young woman shared that this is not the first time she had sat on our front steps in the night. She needed help, and wanted help, but knocking on the door was just too painful, fearful and shameful for her. Still, she came and sat on our steps.
Likely, it is not common that we will have a neighbor finding refuge on our physical front steps, but we do have entire communities who are sitting on our front steps in other ways. We live with many who need help, and want help, and can’t find their way to knock. I am left wondering how I might open the door and invite Jesus to wipe the tears on the front steps of my neighborhood.