There has been a serious amount of activity around PNC this past month. The drop-in continues to grow- I keep wondering if that’s possible, but it’s true. Both myself and Joanna (my lovely part-time co-worker and teammate) are having ample opportunity to journey alongside people. I feel so fortunate to be invited into people’s lives; their pain and struggle; their hopes and dreams.

Recently Joanna and I accompanied a person, I’ll call her Anna, to court. It was not Anna’s first trip through the system, though I learned it WAS her first time going “straight” (not under the influence of any substance) and with people she trusted. I picked Anna up, planning to meet Joanna at Old City Hall. On the drive over, Anna was full of anxious energy. She talked about not having slept the night before, making the decision to not “take a toke or a drink” and how her incessant praying had become exhausting, though she consistently uttered “sweet Jesus” under her breath.  I offered to pray on her behalf.

I also learned more of Anna’s life: the brother she lost to a bullet, the family caught up in gang life and drugs, the years spent working the streets, the bridge she lived under. We parked underground. I couldn’t figure out which way was out, but Anna knew: she had slept in the stairwells. Each step brought up old memories. I wanted to cry and hug her and listen to more all at once.

We met Joanna, went through security, and waited. We entered the courtroom, listened to a clerk, and received some important information about Anna’s case. We read through it the best we could and waited some more. For obvious reasons, I won’t go into all the details. Really, the most important details in all of this are that Anna left the courthouse having done what she needed to do and with friends willing to support her the rest of the way.

Anna has felt alone the majority of her life. I’m certain there will be many days when that feeling rears its ugly head. My hope though is that Anna will learn to remember how she is loved and forgiven, and that knowing this will influence her choices. Already, so much has changed, not least of which is living in a place of her own. No more stairwells.

Join me in cheering Anna on.

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