This time of year, Christians around the world will be celebrating advent, a time of expectant waiting for Christmas. Come with us as we journey through advent together, listening to stories from those in our programs as they explore Hope, Faith, Love and Peace.
We met Vanessa earlier this year when she started attending Innercity Arts. Vanessa is friendly, energetic and generous. It is easy to think that she has everything figured out. But as we got to know her, we realized she is wearing a thick mask in order to cope with the trauma she has gone through. Recently Vanessa shared what it was like the first time she came to art group, and her thoughts on Peace.
“I would just sit in my room for days. Doing nothing really. All my life – regardless of living situation I’ve just been… existing – going through the motions of life. I would self-isolate a lot. I felt depressed, and lonely. I felt exhausted, but restless at the same time. Eventually I would force myself to go for a walk.
When I would go outside this feeling would come over me – like a deafening silence, and my feet would feel unsteady like the ground was coming out from under me. It was chaotic in my head all the time. Like I was screaming but no one knew.
One day when I was walking I ran into my friend Dexter. He said he was going to this art group and I should come too. I was…skeptical but I had nothing else to do. Then we walked into this building – I didn’t know what to expect.
But the first thing I felt when I walked in…was peace. The ground felt firm, the noise in my head was quiet. I could tell right away it was a good place. I felt like I connected with people right away and everyone was kinda like me. We’d all been though stuff. When I come here, I don’t have to concentrate on every move – I can just go on auto pilot. I felt calm and I think it’s because of the people here at OIM. I don’t have anything to worry about here. I’ve found compassion, kindness and community.”
Vanessa still struggles with isolating herself. And she still goes on long walks to help cope. “When I walk, I don’t really pay attention to where I am going. But I usually end up at the OIM building, even when it’s closed. I feel drawn to it. And I think it’s because it’s so peaceful.”
Listen to Vanessa’s Story of Peace: