Recently 60 graduates of the Pine Street Inn job training program said hello to a new life.
After receiving employment coaching and other services, they're now ready for the next step forward. The Pine Street Inn, a Boston shelter, assists men and women who are seeking to make positive changes in their lives (The Boston Globe, May 24).
The majority of residents grapple with more than just career drift or job loss. They deal day to day with some of life's most challenging problems: addiction, poverty, homelessness, abuse. Holding down a job or raising a family in the midst of these problems can be difficult, if not almost impossible.
It's good to see people get a second or third or fourth opportunity to set their lives right. So many of us need that. We start along the channel we think will bring us satisfaction, only to find that we're drifting away from our original dreams and goals. We come to find that we need God's love, shown through the support of others, to get back on course.
Clearly most of those who run shelters treat others as equals and hold out hope for their future. They encourage their residents to use the resources available to take the next step forward.
The Bible is a great resource for those who are struggling. It offers story after story of downtrodden or hurting individuals who find their way with God's guidance. When we open the Bible with a seeking heart, we will always find the comfort we need.
Psalm 61 says, "Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy."
Sometimes we feel beleaguered by trouble or surrounded by enemies. There might be other people who want to cause us harm. Or perhaps we have less dangerous but still distressing concerns like unpaid bills or a chronic health problem. Whatever form our "enemies" take, they all suggest the same thing – that something besides God could govern our experience. When that temptation comes to us, the best thing to do to improve our lives is to detect it and climb back up into the "strong tower" of God's love.
The truth is that we've never left that tower of spiritual security, and when we turn to God in prayer, He reminds us of that fact. We can pray anywhere – in a car, on the street, in a shelter, in a hotel. We can take a second or an hour. We can pray through tears or laughter. It's not a performance; it's a genuine connection with God. It's about acknowledging His great power to save and redeem us.
The view from the tower is always better than the one from the ground. Once we've come to that place in consciousness where we can see from the higher perspective of Spirit, God, we're ready to make wise decisions about our future. Mary Baker Eddy wrote, "We all must find shelter from the storm and tempest in the tabernacle of Spirit" ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," p. 362).
Often the arrival at this more accurate perspective doesn't happen overnight but can require persistent effort and determination. God helps us with that. He gives us the ability to see where we should walk and the strength to continue down that path.
It's the compassion and generosity of divine Love that give us places such as the Pine Street Inn and other shelters in cities and towns across the country, where people of all backgrounds and faiths can begin to find answers. Whether we're starting over in a big way or simply altering our course, God is at the beginning, middle, and end of the journey.