“Richard wrote a diary entry in his head.
Dear Diary, he began. On Friday I had a job, a fiancée, a home, and a life that made sense. (Well, as much as any life makes sense). Then I found an injured girl bleeding on the pavement, and I tried to be a Good Samaritan. Now I've got no fiancée, no home, no job, and I'm walking around a couple of hundred feet under the streets of London with the projected life expectancy of a suicidal fruitfly.”
― Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere
Many years ago, my grandmother had a friend, whom she was dearly fond of. At the time she was simply known as Ruth or Ruthy. You might know her better as Lieutenant Governor Ruth Meiers of North Dakota. Grandma was considerably older than Ruth, by 12 and a half years. I don’t know all the finer details of the friendship between Ruth and Erma, but I do know that my grandma, who was known to speak her mind when the occasion called for it, never had a bad word to say about Ruth, personally or politically.
Ruth grew up in the same town as Grandma Scheer, and as life would have it, they each took their own paths. Grandma became a wife and mother, and Ruth became a social worker. Ruth went on in her life to serve in the North Dakota House and later to become the first woman Lieutenant Governor of the state.
In all her years, everything that Lt. Governor Ruth Meiers did was with an attitude of service. Ruth understood something about life. She understood that life can change in an instant for anyone, at any time. She wanted to be there to help when and where she could.
Neil Gaiman’s book, although the quote above may imply otherwise, is a life lesson we could all learn about the homeless – the unseen, the unwanted, and the unloved of the world. In an instant our lives can change. Our lives can become something very different than we have ever known. The story unfolds in a fantasy realm; however, it is a metaphor of what homelessness is. It is the story of the struggles, the hardships, and the rules that apply when navigating their world.
The story is about the loss of all the material things in the world. If that happened to you, what would you do? Where would you go? How would you learn to survive without your car, your home, your money and your family? And most importantly, what would you do when the whole world that you knew and loved turns it back on you?
Thankfully, the people of Bismarck and western North Dakota have the legacy of Ruth Meiers to turn to when their world is turned upside down: Ruth Meiers Hospitality House.
This February 11th is Giving Hearts Day all across North Dakota. On April 21st of this year, Ruth Meiers Hospitality House will celebrate 29 years of serving the community, and isn’t that what it is really all about, serving the poor, the sick, and those in need? According to their website, Ruth Meiers Hospitality House relies on the community for 75% of their annual budget. That is a lot of love and support for a great cause. If you were to give $26, you would provide two meals, a shower, and a warm safe bed for one night, for one person. More importantly, you give that one person something that cannot be bought, or even traded for – hope. Imagine what could happen if 1,000 people gave $26!
I absolutely adore Neil Gaiman’s book, Neverwhere, and as much as I would hope that one day you will read it, I hope more so that you would find it in your own giving heart to support Ruth Meiers Hospitality House, where hope is ever renewed. Visit their website, learn more about them.
This post was not solicited by and is not endorsed by Ruth Meiers Hospitality House in any way. (I just really believe in what they do.)
Through literature, we learn to live, to love, and to conquer!