It was a Sunday like today, with a sharp cool fall wind, but sunny, when I walked Heather home from church.
I had called to her from the sidewalk, she was in the ally shuffling her shuffle toward me. She called back, "Heather, my name is Heather not Teresa." She wasn’t disappointed or upset that I confused her name with someone else, she was just matter of fact.
Heather is handicapped and lives in a group home. Her eyes are crossed but clear, and deep brown. She can fix you with either eye allowing the other one to roam. One arm doesn’t work well so she uses her cane with the other. She moves by bending forward and half dragging her left leg then throwing it out in front of her.
The sidewalk dips for a driveway and Heather has to adjust her stride. She leans to the side to compensate for the angle and seems almost to fall. I start to reach out, then, still talking, she catches herself like she’s done countless times before.
There is no hint of awkwardness as we talk and walk. She tells me about her tumour operation. She says she is 34. She talks about her parents and when they lived in Northern Alberta. She lets me know that her mom is recovering from flesh eating disease.
I ask her about Rehoboth, her group home. She says she’s been with them since the mid nineties and that she is very happy here and I believe her. Then we walk in silence and I notice the fall sun and breeze on my face.
We walked together for 2 blocks, I gauged that I could cover twenty blocks in the same time.
I’m told that Heather is impoverished in a thousand ways. But that day she enriched my life.
Later, Deb asked me why I was renewed by walking and talking with Heather. I’ve concluded that in some way, as I listened, Heather offered me simply Heather.
She gave me a place, a space to be, she received me without pretense, silently, and she became a host to me.
Her poverty was a short cut to Christ. So what kind of poverty is that?