A beautiful poem by Emily Dickenson starts:

Hope is the thing with feathers 

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without the
words –

And never stops – at all 

This was on my mind during the most recent quinceañera that we had to celebrate the lives of 6 of our girls at the Children’s Home.  I have been to many over the years and I still am moved beyond words by each one.   A quinceañera is an important rite of passage for girls when they turn 15.  For us, it is, first and foremost, a religious ceremony in which we give thanks for their lives and remind them they are precious daughters of the Risen Lord. They receive a rose and a beautiful ring symbolizing purity, beauty, and the eternal nature
of God’s love for them.  And then we party!

Occasionally, a girl will have a parent or other relative present.  Sometimes, there are siblings who are still in the Children’s Home or who have grown up.  More often than not, however, we are the family there to celebrate and love the girls. Some girls have been with us all their lives and grow up expecting and looking forward to their big day.  Other girls came to us later and never in their wildest dreams thought they would have a quinceañera.  All the girls get the dress of their dreams, impossibly high heels,  and “princess jewelry.” They spend the day of getting their hair and make up done and generally being pampered all day long.

We have had girls who, just a couple weeks before, had been in a living hell, being trafficked or had sole responsibility for several young siblings.  Not only did they not dream of having a quinceañera, the idea of  being loved unconditionally, being valued for who they are, being recognized as a beautiful child of God was beyond comprehension.  And yet, hope is that thing with feathers, that perches in the soul…

The poem goes on:

And sweetest – in the Gale – is
heard –

And sore must be the storm –

That could abash the little

That kept so many warm –


I’ve heard it in the chillest
land –

And on the strangest Sea –

Yet – never – in Extremity,

It asked a crumb – of me.

Safety, nourishment of body and soul, education, opportunity, and love has replaced rejection, poverty, violence, and hopelessness. Seeing these girls reminds me of the constant promise of the Holy Spirit, of redemption and hope, of God’s presence, and of grace that is always there.