Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Maybe Next Time

My last day at the shelter. I am moving on.

Yesterday, I went down to the second floor day area to help serve lunch (the day area is a large open space with room for seating of 500+ people -- meals are served here, people can sit and watch TV, read, chat, play cards, etc.). As I walked through the tables, placing a plate of food in front of each guest, I smiled and wished people "Bon Appetit".

News of my imminent departure is everywhere.

"Hey! How can you leave us?" one woman asked.

"Everyone needs to leave this place at some point," I told her. "I figure maybe if I leave it will make space for others to leave too."

"I'm out of here next month," she said.

"I'm so glad for you," I replied.

And she stood up and hugged me. "We're going to miss you," she said.

And I told her the truth. "I'm going to miss you too."

I am going to miss the people in this place. I am going to miss the feeling of being part of humankind awash in the angst and turmoil, joy and love of being human. Of being in a place where the struggle to find the way home goes beyond one's physical address, to pierce right into the heart of our human condition.

This is a place where everyone fearlessly gathers up the broken pieces to carefully fit each delicate shape into a tapestry of life that is taped, and woven, and stitched and stapled and glued together to complete a portrait of a life flowing from whole to broken to whole again and in and out and around all that makes us human.

There are a lot of broken hearts, beat up dreams and shattered illusions at the shelter. And always, there is Love.

I felt it yesterday as I served lunch with two families who make it their tradition to come in as a group and help out for a day every holiday season.

I felt it walking through the tables chatting and laughing with the people we serve.

I felt it standing at the back of the room with a staff member chatting about 'next moves'.

And I felt it when a young woman came running up to throw her arms around my neck and say, "I'm back."

"It's lovely to see you," I replied. "But I'm sorry to see you here."

"Yeah, me too," she responded. And then she laughed, shrugged her shoulders. "I did well this time. I lasted on the outside a whole year, all by myself. Maybe I'll do better next time."

She did do well. She told me once that all her troubles came because of men in her life. To last a year on 'the outside' alone is a remarkable feat for her.

And I am reminded -- Baby steps. Baby steps. Maybe next time she'll feel less like she is on the outside looking into to a world where everyone else knows where they belong. Maybe next time, she'll get lucky and find that place inside where she is always at home and never has to come back to this place to get in from the cold because outside is so much warmer and welcoming.

And until that time, I am grateful there is this place where those who feel 'the outside' is not a welcoming and sustainable environment have a place to come home to for as long as they need it.

And yes, I am going to miss this place.

And yes, I know I'll be okay, because working here I have learned there is no better place to be than in my heart. And if home is where the heart is, there's no place like home when I surrender and fall in Love.


In a world of this time it'll be different, where the belief of next time I'll be lucky, reigns like stardust scattered across a dark sky, there is always a next time, always a chance to do it different, make it happen, have luck on your side. In honour of all the 'next times' out there, I went in search of one of my all time favourite songs -- from the 1972 hit Cabaret, Liza Minnelli sings, "Maybe Next Time".

(and I laughed as I watched her sing. Most of my life I've been told -- you look just like Liza Minnelli. It's funny, I never really saw it and as she started to sing I thought, "maybe this time".  Nope.... but, there's always next time.)


Beverly Diehl said...

Hi Louise - love you blog, but not a big fan of your new? background. Makes it a little hard to read, IMO.

Full of admiration for you for your time at the shelter, and for your joyful attitude.

I guess I'm seeing the Liza resemblance a bit, now that you point it out, but you just look like a joyful woman, to me.

Best of luck to where ever your journey takes you next.

Louise Gallagher said...

Hi Beverly -- thanks for dropping in!

I think the background must show up differently on different screens. When I full screen it, it's really easy on my eyes (and I am always conscious of that as I need my glasses to read) -- but I think I will have to work on the background to make t easier on all screens -- lol -- a new challenge for 2012 -- figuring out how to modify my background properly!

Thanks so much for your feedback.

Happy New Year!

Maureen said...

You've given much of yourself to DI and I think received much, too, more than most of us will ever experience. Your good work there will continue.

You, Joyce, and I. . . we're all headed for big changes in 2012 (I'll explain mine in e-mail to you). I hope we'll finally meet up in this next year. It's time!

Anonymous said...


we will ALL miss you at the DI, because you did so much great work there - and we will ALL miss your jolt-us-from-our-comfortable-seats commentary to make us more aware.

I wish you good fortune as you shift gears, change paths and explore yourself more deeply.

As you immerse yourself in new work, try new things and explore your creativity there are many you've touched who will always be in your debt for changes you have helped them make in their lives

Your fans, friends and admirers can't wait to hear what is next.



S. Etole said...

You've given and found a lot of love in that place. May your new journey carry even more.

Anonymous said...

Always, there is Love.

Louise Gallagher said...

Thank you Maureen. As a boss of mine used to say many, many years ago - -change is here to stay.

for you, for me, for all of us, change is a way of life -- and through each change, we find new beginnings, new middles, new ends. And always -- we find ourselves where ever we are, doing the best we can.

I shall respond to your email my friend. Please know, you are in my heart.


Louise Gallagher said...

Mark, thank you.

Your words have created a beautiful song in my heart.

And... btw -- I've suggested to my youngest daughter that to help her career along as she steps into a new role at the United Way -- her 'big girl' job as she calls it, Toastmasters would be an excellent choice. She'll be connecting in the new year. :)

Thanks Mark -- you are a great friend.

Happy New Year

Louise Gallagher said...

Thank you Susan -- and I appreciate your comments too, btw! :)

Happy New Year.

Louise Gallagher said...

:-) Nance -- you make me smile. Always.

Fi said...

I'm thinking by the time you read this that you will be done with the DI. Physically done but probably not emotionally done.
Today I'm imagining was a difficult day for you and yet an exciting one as you close one door and open the next one.

So excited for you and I know that whatever you do, you'll be sensational.

My word for 2012 is going to be BELIEF - I'd already considered this word but then I read a quote today that resonated and it helped me make my decision - it said "Belief is the only thing that stands between you and success"

Go forward in your suppleness my friend - 2012 is your year to be even more amazing


Anonymous said...


I will miss you! Every time we spoke in the last few days you had me in tears! I'm so grateful that I can keep up with you on here. Best of luck on your new jouney and the love you leave behind is returned to you tenfold.