snowstormIt is so cold.  With a heart for the hurting, I am re-posting from April, 2015.


She seemed like a misfit in that room of misfits—clean and well groomed in decent clothing, almost regal, tall, thin, with beautiful gray hair arranged neatly in a coiled bun on top of her head. The coil had a black pick through it speaking of a better time – a time when two or three dollars could be spent on a whim. She was alone. She walked through the breakfast line with the other homeless and jobless people, took her food and sat by herself appearing to be very lonely. I drifted over to her seat and sat down by her, introducing myself as I did so. She didn’t give me a name, but I think it might have been Naomi-Mara so named from the Book of Ruth 1:20. She did not appear bitter but it was obvious that life had very recently dealt bitterly with her. My efforts to be friendly were rejected with silence and shaking of the head. I was afraid she would quit eating and walk away if I pursued my attempts to pull her out of her armor so I walked away.

I went back the next week mostly because I wanted to see if she was still there. She was. I think she remembered me but still rejected most of my advances except for one response. After complimenting her beautiful hair, I asked how long it had taken her to grow it. She told me thirty-seven years. Will she be there next time? I don’t know. I started to say I hope so, but that would not be good to hope she is still eating in the bread line. I hope the Holy Spirit is wooing her in some manner wherever she is. I’m reminded of His endless grace as he beacons souls to surrender to the Friend who wants to give them Living Bread to eat.

I saw her again. I didn’t recognize her at first. Life had been very hard on her. Six weeks in the bread line had produced lost weight, black stained fingers, and garments obviously from lost and found boxes or something of that kind. Her behavior was a bit “pushy” as she asked for more napkins showing she had learned some “coping on the street” skills. But most telling of all, instead of the decorative hair pin, she now has her hair (still nicely coiffed) held in place by a scared piece of pencil. What happened to the hair pin and the “acceptable” clothes? Some of her pride was broken as evidenced by the fact that she talked to me as tears rolled faster than she could get napkins to wipe them. I asked if I could come back later in the day to take her someplace. She told me no, that she could walk wherever she needed to go. I asked if she was getting help other than food from the facility there. Again, the answer was no, she needed more than they could give.

Pride gone, replaced by brokenness, she told me her name, but it was more befitting the regal lady I first saw—when she was a misfit in the bread line.  So the last time I saw her she fit perfectly—Naomi Mari.

*Name from the story of Naomi in the book of Ruth, Holy Bible.  When Naomi lost everything, she said to call her “Mari” meaning bitter.

About oneta hayes

ABOUT ME Hello. To various folks I am Neat’nee, Mom, Grandma Neta, Gramma, Aunt Neta, Aunt Noni, Aunt Neno, and Aunt Neto (lots of varieties from little nieces and nephews). To some I’m more like “Didn’t you used to be my teacher?” or “Don’t I know you from someplace?” To you, perhaps, I am a Fellow Blogger. Not “fellow” like a male or a guy, but “fellow” like a companion or an adventurer. I would choose to be Grandma Blogger, and have you pull up a chair, my website before you, while I tell you of some days of yore. I have experienced life much differently than most of you. It was and is a good life. I hope to share nuggets of appreciation for those who have gone before me and those who come after me. By necessity you are among those who come after me and I will tell you of those who came before. Once upon a time in a little house on a prairie - oops, change that lest I commit plagiarism - and change that “house on the prairie” to “dugout on the prairie.” So my story begins...
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14 Responses to NAOMI-MARI*

  1. shoreacres says:

    There are a lot of people suffering today — and some animals, too. Thirty and forty degree temperature drops — and more on the way — is a real emergency. It’s one thing to feel the excitement of weather extremes from inside a warm house. It’s something else to have to cope with them on the street.

    I only thought we were cold. I just looked at some temps from across Oklahoma, and oh, my. That’s not good. I’m almost afraid to go look at Chicago or farther north. We’ll pray for some quick moderation, even if it’s only above freezing.

    • oneta hayes says:

      I’m home. I’m warm. Wood burning in the fireplace. Gas bill paid. More quilts to throw on the bed. Long sleeves to put on. Coldest place I’ve been in three days is the garage. Have an overflow of food stored there since the refrig is full. Hopefully what I am doing by way of taxes and tithes is helping someone. Believe the tithes (church) donations are paying off; have hope that taxes (government) will get more efficient. But at the best, I feel I am weighed in the balance and found wanting. Wish I had known thirty years ago what I know now. Thankful for Grace. You are a great sounding board, Linda. Thanks.

  2. This was sad to read. I wonder what happened to her and if she ever overcame that rough patch.

    • oneta hayes says:

      I went to the same shelter for a few months after seeing her. I don’t know what happened to her. She remains a mystery to me. Many of the people I met there, were there because they wanted to be! That was/is hard to conceive. They were drifters and seemed to want no other kind of life. But not Naomi-Mari. Her broken heart broke my heart.

      • I have found this to be true amongst homeless people too. Sometimes they choose that like and sometimes it’s from brokenness. I was never so upset as when I realized that they actually have a permit to ask for money and think that standing on the corner bit is a job. When I give my money to them, they think that was their pay for the day. It’s insane. I’d rather help them get things they need and point them to real work than throw money at them.

  3. How sad. You painted such a vivid image with this story I could literally see this as I read it.

  4. Dawn Marie says:

    A vivid account of a daily reality for many…. May God’s healing hand rest upon these weary hearts.

  5. Pingback: Featured Posts – Share Your Post Links | a cooking pot and twisted tales

  6. calensariel says:

    Heart breaking. As fulfilling as it is to work in soup kitchens and food pantries, it can be so emotional, and one can easily get attached to those they meet. Our church is part of the national organization Family Promise. Once a quarter (though it has been more often of late) we take in up to 18 people for a week at a time and provide everything they need including food (church volunteers do the cooking, etc.) and beds (we convert our classrooms to bedrooms for that week) (they’re mostly families) while the main office here helps them to find employment and permanent living space. Family Promise has a very high success rate. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out, but everyone in the congregation has been so supportive. Great post, Oneta. You’re an excellent writer.

    • oneta hayes says:

      Thank you, Calen. I thought you would have a heart for this lady just as I did. I hope with time she came to the place where she would accept help from individuals who cared instead of getting lost in the swamp of anonymity. Sounds like a loving and wise program by your church group. Blessings on them and you.

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