We can feel it, literally, we can feel it as the needle is put into our arms and the vaccine enters our bodies, we feel an infusion of hope and a sense of relief that we can begin the journey back to what might feel normal for us. This vaccine is not a cure-all - there will still be uncertainty and challenge ahead. The ongoing chaos that has gripped society this past year gives us a window into the hearts and minds of survivors of sexual exploitation and trafficking.
For nearly 26 years, I have watched hundreds of women enter their healing journeys with hope and fear. Once the decision to heal is made, I know that the privilege of walking with her will go from extraordinary delight to deep sadness, from moments of high hopes to extended periods of despair for both of us. It is a roller coaster. When I stop and think about her journey, I see in her a reflection of my own journey and of our collective journey throughout this pandemic.
What scares the woman the most on her journey is love. Loving herself, being absolutely loved by those walking with her. Most frightening perhaps is God’s love for her. She feels unworthy. She’s leery because others who promised to love her instead took advantage of her and hurt her. As she continues her journey, she is confused by those who walk with her. Nobody has told her that they love her and yet she is overcome many times by what she is feeling for maybe the first time. She is lovable and is loved, no strings attached.
This is the journey of the spiritual life - to learn how to trust in our worthiness, to remember that we need not earn God’s love. It is just available for us - whether we choose to receive it or not.
The love of God is simply the truth about all of our lives. And that love for each person into the earth is just a given. It is the truth. And there's nothing that we can do to throw that love of God away. Because it's something God gives to us and it's not something we even have to receive in order for it to be true.
– Rev. Dr. Serene Jones
Dear Sisters and Brothers, as we enter into this period of healing as a global community, please continue to help Franciscan Peacemakers walk the healing journey with the women who allow us into their lives on the streets, at our Hospitality Center, in our Social Enterprise and Clare Community. Your support is one way God’s love is made apparent in our lives and in the lives of the women we are honored to serve. Together, we will heal and rest in the promise of God’s love. - Deacon Steve Przedpelski, Executive Director