The Happiest Sad Day

I just finished saying good-bye to a mom and her two daughters and young son. They successfully completed our program, found housing, and are  moving on to their new lives. And I am surprised how hard I cried as I walked away from the door of their apartment for the last time.

I can get insecure about whether we are helping enough moms and children. I wish we had more apartments. I wish all our families had 5 kids. I wish, when we complete grant applications and we are asked for numbers, I could record 3 and even 4 digits.

But as I left this mom’s door, I cried because I knew numbers lie. They cheat. They make us think what we do only matters if we can do it for thousands. There’s the lie. No matter what numbers we report, the truth is we help one family at a time, one moment at a time, one day at a time.  And for this family, WE DID IT! Every staff member here changed their lives. There's only one way to measure that, and it's a concept, not a number: infinity.

Today, we got to see we made a world of difference. I am strengthened by words from Father Greg Boyle (Homeboy Industries), when he says it is not our job to worry about quantity and impact. It is our job to stand with our clients in awe at the burdens they carry. I am strengthened by words from the Talmud, that sprawling compendium of the ways Jews bring God into the world: "If you save a single life, it is as if you save an entire world."  And I am strengthened by these simple words of the foundress of Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Sister Mary Euphrasia: “Courage...go forth.”

Go forth into the world with courage, our sacred mom and you three holy children. We will go forth to meet the next family ready to trust us with their lives, just as you have.