Sunday nights are hectic at Plymouth Church as four families arrive all at once to settle into their new home for the week. Four families, all unique, looking for shelter as they navigate the hardships of life and the rigors of the Family Promise program.
Tonight, as I walk down the hall with a single dad and his children to show them our hospitality room where they can get breakfast in the morning and pack a lunch for the day, his four-year-old girl looks up at me, her neck bent far back, eyes big and wide and asks, “Is this where God goes?”
I smile at this question I have never heard before. On the walls surrounding us are old framed posters depicting symbols of Christianity. Are these symbols what made her ask such a question or does she feel something here we can’t actually see?
“Yes,” I say smiling as I look at her dad, “This is where God is.”
“She is learning about Jesus,” he says to me in response to my smile.
I think more about her question as we make our way through the night. And as I do I decide that my answer to her is 100 percent correct.
I see God in the bright playful eyes of another young guest who plays peek a boo with me at dinner and then catches my eye with hers in the mirror as we wash our hands in the bathroom sink.
I see God in the eyes of the dad who jumps into help set up the fourth bedroom our set up crew missed that morning.
I see God in the energy of three of our most faithful volunteers there to make our guests feel welcome.
I see God in the Thomas the Tank engine pillow case put out specifically for a little boy even though no one knew he loved Thomas so much. “Is this a coincidence?” his mom asks. “Yes, it is!” I reply although a part of me knows that somehow this is a part of God’s love as he hoists his own Thomas blanket that he carried in from the van onto his cot.
Everywhere I look from the homemade casseroles to the hearts on a lavender bedspread that is claimed by an excited little girl “This is mine!” I see God.
But more importantly I feel Him. I feel Him in the words spoken to me by the dad I just met, struggling with missing his children, so anxious to see them again once he and his wife can move into temporary housing. I feel it in the connection between them, the way they lean toward one another and hold each other’s gaze.
“We have things we want to accomplish” he tells me, and I know God is there with them as they move through this program and along life’s journey.
“So YES, dear girl, this is where God goes. God goes here because God is everywhere including inside of you. He is with us every minute of every day. I hope that through this program where days can be hard, and weeks can be tough that you will see God’s love and feel God’s love, just as you have reminded me to do.”
Mary Kaczor, Family Promise of Lawrence Board Member and Volunteer Coordinator