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Dixil Rodríguez

is a university professor and volunteer hospital chaplain living in Texas.

Searching the Obvious – Enter Destination

I arrive one day early to my teaching conference. I have a visit to make. I listen to the automated GPS voice: “You have arrived at your destination.” I glance around, still uncertain. Then I see the building with a sign that reads: “Vivienne and Evelyn’s Youth Home.” I am here.

  • * * *

Before the hospital gowns, starchy sheets, syringes; before someone else took over her daily schedule, Evelyn would feed the pigeons on weekends at Lafayette Park; buy a warm drink for a person who was homeless; work as an editor eight hours a day. On her way home she always had a sandwich for the homeless man who played the violin at the Metro exit, casually placing it in his violin case. When the brain tumor grew, a private hospital provided her with a room. Evelyn was a member of my church. Nobody knew she was so ill, and we wondered who cared for her.

The answer found me at work, when Francis, another church member, invited me to meet her for lunch, just off the Beltway.

  • * * *

A beautiful home has been adjusted to accommodate a wheelchair. There are no pictures on the walls, just moving boxes and furniture. Francis sits on a bed, looking out the window while work goes on around her. She’s ill.

Francis knew Evelyn as a child, when Evelyn’s expected destination after college was China. She wanted to teach abroad. After graduation, her parents became ill and her dreams were deferred. A prayer request made Francis aware of Evelyn’s situation and provided care for Evelyn. As she speaks, Francis’ hands tremble. I don’t think I am here by accident.

“We both lost our family,” Francis whispers. “But . . .”

Visiting Evelyn, Francis recognized Viviane, a fellow church member and nurse. Viviane’s son, Brent, was enrolling in college with dreams of being a youth pastor. “May I ask you to look in on him through the years?” asks Francis.

* * *

Have we become desensitized to the travel markers?

The automated voice in the Metro tells me I have arrived at my stop. I exit thinking about the lonely intersection of these women, all members of my church, all experiencing challenges. I stop walking, aware of destination signs all around me. All of us were called to be there for them. We were meant to be their support group, an emotional and spiritual haven. What happened? Have we become desensitized to the travel markers to help one another?

Alone, a prayer for direction seems necessary.

* * *

I sit across from Brent at a table inside the Vivienne and Evelyn’s Youth Home. A small building, the three floors serve as a soup kitchen, short-term overnight stay for those who are homeless and runaway youth; and an education hall where tutoring and a small library coexist.

Brent tells me his best sermons often take place in the basketball court; the best mission work happens when they help one another; and that networking with other local churches helps with daily meals. Every day he prays for guidance to make decisions that will better the lives of others. Every Saturday after a short church service the community eats together. “Meeting people where they are” has made the greatest difference in his ministry.

* * *

I wave goodbye and merge onto the highway. I hear the automated GPS ask me to “Enter Destination.” I smile and turn off the GPS.

It is obvious that the Holy Spirit moves among us, points us in the right direction, ensuring that we arrive safely at our destinations. Maybe, to help one another, we just have to be more aware of the destination signs.

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