Mother's Brunch: Experiencing Abundance in the Tenderloin
“Hospitable” is not the first adjective that comes to mind in the Tenderloin. Walking the streets in this San Francisco neighborhood means exposure to homelessness, mental illness, and substance abuse. I pass people sleeping on sidewalks and standing in food lines. I feel a speechless anger—just blocks away, the Financial District and Union Square exude power and privilege.
I was surprised when asked to join Mother’s Brunch, a weekly gathering of neighborhood mothers. Yet over the months, I have come to cherish my time with this vibrant group of women and their young children. They meet at the Well, BJM’s serene, beautiful center for women and girls in the Tenderloin. Every woman is welcomed into the group, known by name and loved. This is a safe place where moms can relax and share about the challenges of raising children in this troubled area.
At the Well, these women have also found a spiritual home. They are learning from the Bible and exploring a deeper connection with God through prayer. The women possess diverse faith backgrounds, yet their differences do not cause division—it is a breath of fresh air. We explore what we have in common: dreams; fears; a need for community; a sense that God is at work; and hope that one day things will be different.
What I admire most about the moms is they are not victims. They know their neighborhood is not all God desires for them. Their lives are not comfortable, yet they see how God is moving. Alone they cannot change conditions in the Tenderloin, so they organize and stand together. God joins their efforts and acts to make life better.
The women of Mother’s Brunch have spiritual eyes and ears that pick up the heartbeat of God. They know that God is with them. He speaks words of life, brings hope and healing, and bears witness to the pain and suffering in this world. This is just like the upside-down kingdom that Jesus speaks of, where not the rich but the poor are blessed.
All of these awe-inspiring experiences and more are why I treasure my time at this gathering and why I am grateful for the opportunity and privilege to spend time with mothers in the Tenderloin.