Carrying Hope into 2019
January 22, 2019
On Christmas Day, I opened a gift from my daughter. It was an artistically painted stone that displayed one word: Hope. “It’s because you work at Bridge of Hope!” she said matter-of-factly.
Our kids have always been drawn into our professional lives to some degree. They understand how much value we place on how our work calls us into community with those around us. In my role as director of Bridge of Hope Harrisonburg-Rockingham, I am able to more deeply engage with the wider Harrisonburg-Rockingham community, most importantly the homeless in our community. This work is nothing short of transformative for myself and everyone involved – including my daughter. She understands that the homeless person she sees on the street is our neighbor and we have a responsibility to them as part of our community.
The first time she entered my office, she excitedly recognized a friend of hers in one of our publications, a child that had gone through our program was her schoolmate. When the weather grew colder this winter, she helped me assemble care bags to give to any homeless person we encountered. The first step to transformation is opening our eyes. It’s so easy to look away because homelessness is a devastating reality. But when we choose to see, we can’t help but be transformed. When our hearts are open, they become invested in the sacred life of the person in front of us. My daughter wrote personal notes for each care bag, imagining the person receiving it. That is holy ground.
One of my favorite aspects of this work is to witness transformation rippling through the wider community as well. I have witnessed donors’ hearts becoming more generous in the space of a conversation. I have experienced personal friends become partners as they stepped up to volunteer with us. I have watched the faith of church folks deepen in humility and compassion as they journey with our families. I have experienced the power of social service agencies networking to strengthen their overall impact. And I have been awe-struck at the transformation I have witnessed in the families in our program. The power behind this transformation work can be summed up in one word: Spirit.
The Holy Spirit will teach you all things and
remind you of everything I have said to you.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled
and do not be afraid.
John 14: 25-27
I believe Spirit is everywhere and in everyone. But I’ve also noticed that I can see and feel Spirit’s handiwork more clearly when I am located with those at the margins of society. And though Spirit certainly works in big ways, it’s mostly the small things, the everyday happenings and offerings of people’s lives, that I see Spirit weaving together. Because I know Spirit is working on this grand weaving project, I have reason to hope. I believe Spirit will continue to transform us as we journey with the families in our program, because Spirit is endlessly forming communities grounded in love and justice. Transformation and Hope: The gifts that keep on giving.
My daughter’s gift to me was a symbolic recognition that it is my job to carry hope. Indeed, I am carrying deep hope in Spirit, community, and transformation with me into 2019.
Thank you for your partnership in this work, and for whatever gifts you would offer to Spirit’s awesome weaving project here in Harrisonburg-Rockingham.
With gratitude and hope,
Chris Hoover Seidel
Director, Bridge of Hope Harrisonburg-Rockingham