Why I Give by Nan Madding, Volunteer & GEM

To pass through mourning is to emerge into a new reality. It is a hard-won education that grief provides for us, and in this season of newness – bulbs breaking through, daylight hours returning, weddings being announced - sometimes you need a safe place to land and a gentle ear to just listen.  Treasure those people who show up for you, who know mourning is not a “one and done” event. 

You can love your life and your people and still feel the strange, lingering ache of loneliness in your bones.  I have stood in rooms and been startled by this feeling lodged in my heart without invitation: It can be terrifying to feel the singular loneliness of feeling deeply unknown.  You may feel weary of being brave, wondering what else you could have done, when will the grief subside.  It’s strange how the world, your day, can feel like a minefield.   No one trips over mountains - it is the small pebble that causes you to stumble. 

The poverty that’s most easily forgotten but most deeply felt is the poverty of friendship.  It seems like these days more than ever, we’re all just looking for safe places.  We are all parched for safe people.  I think about a friendship of many years.  I knew when I met her we would be a safe place for one another – a “Stego”.  I was welcome any way I showed up.  Elated, melancholy, hysterical – needing to lay my soul bare.  No judgement, always acceptance.  When my fiancé died in an auto accident, I called her and she boarded a plane.  One leg in a cast, using crutches, she listened to my heart for a week and walked me through things I didn’t think I could face.  She remained my stego until she was no more. 

Stego – shorthand for “I’ll be your safe place.”  It is a Greek word that comes from that verse “Love bears all things.”  Love stegos all things.  Stego literally means a thatch roof.  Love bears all things like a roof bears the wind and sun and rain.  Love is a roof.  Stego – it’s shorthand for I’ll be like a roof, like a home to you.  I’ll be a safe place when you feel you have no place. The world may feel broken and the headlines may feel loud, but there are people who stop the winds, who are a roof, who are stegos in the storms.