April 29, 2020: SURROUNDED BY GRACE
“My chest really hurts, but my cough is better. I am really tired,” Shanika said. “Been quarantined seven days, halfway there. I miss seeing my kids a whole lot. They’re staying with my auntie.”
From the day she first walked into Covenant House, Shanika has not been a bit of trouble: despite growing up in a dysfunctional, abusive household, despite being trafficked since age 17, despite being homeless and raising two small children, despite all the trauma in her young life.
There are not the usual—and completely understandable—fits of anger. There is not the normal acting out with peers, or even with her own toddlers. Shanika amazes us with her maturity and patience.
Grace is God’s unmerited, unconditional love for us. Grace is God’s healing love.
In our coronavirus world, we continually experience grace in action. Every day, we are blessed to witness so many simple acts of kindness and generosity:
Bruce is a good friend of our kids. He is also an emergency room doctor at U.M.C., the medical epicenter for the coronavirus for Louisiana. A month ago, he was working 12 to 14 hours a day trying to save the lives of hundreds of patients, and he called, wanting to know how our young people were doing. Grace.
My two sisters, Mary Ann and Peggy, spent the first two weeks of the pandemic sewing masks for our staff and youth. Founding members of our mask brigade, they have since been joined by dozens of volunteers. Who would have ever thought New Orleans would not have enough masks? Grace.
Brian from the Emeril’s Foundation checked in on our kids, wanting to make sure they were doing OK. Did they have enough to eat? Their team wanted to drop off dinner on Thursday night. They have now decided to bring dinner every Thursday. Grace.
Miss Frenchie, one of our case managers, is a gift. She was with us when we opened our doors in 1987. Frenchie’s cubicle is just outside my office. The other day, one of our young men needed to vent. And for 45 minutes, Frenchie listened, never interrupting, only being affirming, knowing sessions like these were part of the healing process. We are blessed by a team of phenomenal listeners. Grace.
For the past two months, public servants like LaToya, Shaun, Kristin, Marketa, and Brandon have been continually reaching out—calls, emails, and texts. Despite ALL they have on their plates, our kids are in their prayers—and the prayers of thousands of prayer warriors. Grace.
One night recently, I was getting ready to leave. Two Domino’s pizza delivery men appeared at our door. The manager wanted to donate 15 pizzas for our youth. Turns out he was a resident back in the early nineties. He is one of our hundreds of generous and faithful benefactors. Grace.
At no time since being diagnosed with COVID-19 has Shanika complained or shouted out: This is not fair! After all I have been through, this just is not fair! Shanika is so sweet and so humble. How does she do it? Grace.
In the midst of this pandemic, GRACE will free us from fear, give us hope, and fill us with God’s love and peace.