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A Window into a Soul

Green Shutters
Mateusz Stachowski

Missioner-in-training Valerie Ellis reflects on the powerful effect love’s presence has made on her in her relationship with a woman at her volunteer site.

I was offered a window into Angela’s* life. I saw a woman who looked much younger than ninety-seven. I heard of a life, just the inklings of understanding about a life, that seems well-lived. I found a woman with much joy for life. A woman who constantly proclaims that the Lord is good. A woman who sits close to the door for warmth, as the sun shines through the window. A woman who gazes at the window for hours at a time, wishing her body could keep up with her soul. A woman whose grandchildren come to visit her, whose grandson has just gotten engaged to be married. A woman who wants to enjoy her granddaughter-in-law, to know her, to know her grandson more fully. I met a woman with so many untold stories that I will never have time to hear them all.

I saw a different side of Angela the last time I was at my volunteer site. She sat listless in her chair, dozing in and out of consciousness. I heard of a different side of Angela, too. I heard that she kept volunteers up all hours of the night calling them a variety of names (of people they didn’t know) and talking about seemingly nonsense occurrences. As I watched Angela sleep, as I was concerned about the possibility that she might not eat that day, the thought struck me. I want to be at her funeral.

The word that came to me was love. It is amazing how in such a short time we can learn to love those around us. I felt God putting on my heart the emotion of love, and I was surprised to find anticipated grief, and concern to let someone know that I would like to be made aware, to be included in the celebration of this wonderful woman’s life. I hope that she has many more years ahead of her, and am counting my blessings that I have been gifted to share in her journey during my time in D. C.

*name changed for confidentiality

Valerie served for two years (2014-2015) in Cochabamba, Bolivia working with CUBE (Centro Una Brisa de Esperanza) to raise sexual violence awareness and prevention, and in CEV (Comunidad Educativa Para La Vida) teaching and nurturing children six months to 8-years-old. Valerie grew up outside of Wichita, Kansas and graduated from The University of Tampa. She found her way to Franciscan Mission Service after 12 years of working in higher education where she worked with international students and designed and taught a class called "Avoiding Violence: Be A Part of the Solution."