Addressing Homelessness through Presence and Play

Hans - painted face

THEY DIDN’T BECOME HOMELESS FROM RUNNING OUT OF MONEY. THEY BECAME HOMELESS FROM RUNNING OUT OF RELATIONSHIPS.

Hans Erchinger-Davis, executive director of Lighthouse Mission Ministries

The Lighthouse Mission serves people experiencing homelessness in Bellingham. And they have been at it for nearly a century.

On February 14 – YES Valentine’s Day, AND also Ash Wednesday – I had the privilege of leading 22 staff from the Lighthouse Mission in a 90-minute improv workshop. It seemed a perfect day – remembering that besides the red hearts and romance, love is also about suffering and enduring. And it’s about Presence and Play.

Hans and I sat down afterwords on the window ledge in the park building at Maritime Heritage Park, so I could hear his thoughts about the improv workshop, what it was like for he and his staff, and why cultivating presence and experiencing Play are vital.

What was the improv workshop like for you?

Hans: It felt very freeing, because we got to play together, and also learn some real life application. Especially in the work we do – working with people experiencing homelessness — there is a lot of relational give-and-take that goes on between staff and guests, among the staff, and its really fantastic that your workshop requires us to tune in to each other… to really hear and see what’s happening and be able to respond in a way that is helpful. There’s a real power in people feeling like others are attentive to their presence – what they are saying, and who they are. Continue reading “Addressing Homelessness through Presence and Play”

Yes, I’m diving in, And I’m not alone

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If ever there were a moment to Underthink It, it’s on New Year’s Day here at Lake Padden in Bellingham. It’s the annual Polar Bear Dip. And I decided yesterday that I would do it.

Here’s how it works: at noon on the dot, a bunch of people charge in the water, yelling and howling, dive in, and yell and howl some more as they make it back to solid ground. It’s quite exhilarating! And yes, it’s insane. I won’t argue with you on that point.

Yes, today the water temp was Continue reading “Yes, I’m diving in, And I’m not alone”

Holding Space for Something New

 

salmon juvies

I learned a fair amount about stormwater pollution in my last job. The more obvious pollution is well obvious – oil spills and the like. What is less obvious is how sediment/soil runoff is also a pollutant. When fine sediment enters a stream it fills the interstitial spaces between the rocks and stones of the streambed. So what? Well, this is harmful because these spaces are where salmon lay their eggs. And if there are no spaces, there are no eggs, there is no continuation of salmon life in that place.

What are the interstitial spaces in our lives, bodies, days, hearts? Continue reading “Holding Space for Something New”