By Sharon O’Flaherty, Chair of the Board of Joseph House of Cleveland
Joseph House is 7,519 miles from Kathmandu, Nepal. On a quiet summer morning, I and a few
of my colleagues sort through and hang some of the newly donated clothes in our clothing bank.
We catch up on family news and current events while anticipating the arrival of the refugees,
who are coming to Joseph House for some basic needs- clothing and shoes. Soon we will be busy
welcoming beautiful people from faraway places who are here because of dire circumstances
beyond their control, things we cannot even imagine.
A small group from Nepal arrives with Megan, from Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services. We show them where to find what they might need. Sometimes communication is mostly through smiles and what might appear to an outsider to be a game of charades, when verbal language fails us.
On this day, an older gentlemen from Nepal is looking at the men’s jackets. He is delighted to find a tweed blazer that fits him well. I show him another and ask if he would like to try it on?
No, he shakes his head. It’s clear this one is just enough and he will be wearing it home. While others in the group continue to shop, I point out to the man in tweed the world map on the wall, with pins marking Cleveland and his former home. How far he has come to get here! I wonder what he is thinking. I say a little prayer for him, his family, friends and all of us wandering about on this planet that we share.
In a few minutes, the group is done shopping and they are preparing to leave. We wish them well
and they are grateful. As they head to the door, the man in tweed turns to me, pressing his hands
together and with a small bow says “Namaste”. No one outside of a yoga class has ever said that
to me before. We smile at each other. It is a sign of respect. I press my hands together, nod my head and respond “Namaste”. Regardless of where we are from, what we look like, or what language we speak, we share a connection. God dwells within each of us. Namaste.