Rev. Mark Meeks of Capitol Heights Presbyterian Church gave this wonderful devotion at a recent gathering of the Women’s Homelessness Initiative:
A recent ‘Shelf Awareness’ email from Tattered Cover informed me of two new books I found of interest. The first is entitled A Sense of Wonder: The World’s Best Writers on the Sacred, the Profane, and the Ordinary. This book bears these two quotes: “A chapel is where you can hear something beating below your heart”, and, the second quote is “attention is the beginning of devotion”.
The other book described is The Vanished: The ‘Evaporated People’ of Japan in Stories and Photographs. Here is a brief reference to the book’s content: “Every year in Japan thousands of individuals just disappear, motivated by shame, hopelessness, and debt. They are called johatsu, the evaporated. Some commit suicide, some go into hiding, some change their names, others, just don’t expect to be pursued.”
This evening we are gathered to celebrate the publication of Exposure: Homelessness Through the Lens of Art and Poetry. This is a story of the ‘pursued’, those with the courage and grace to be present amid their need, and those with that common ‘beating below the heart’ who show up to make a space of warmth and welcome, of dignity and hope. We with this book celebrate a story of ‘attention’, an act of devotion, that seeks to overcome the dynamics of ‘evaporation’ and transform the pressures that create the ‘vanished’.
I celebrate this night all who play some part in the Women’s Homeless Initiative; with hearts of devotion and the will to be present amid need each one refuses ‘to go into hiding’ from the distress of homelessness in our time. Thank you.