Every day at the Hope Center brings a new challenge. Time commitments, for one, are hard to stick to, because of the nature of the job, and plans must often be changed.

This week I went twice, on Tuesday and Thursday, to paint with one of the Hope Center’s frequent visitors. He and I have been painting together since December, and we’ve gotten to be friends. He tells me about all the many places he’s travelled, and I am consistently fascinated by his life story. He’s only known English for six years, but I can understand him perfectly.

On Tuesday, though, he was feeling too sick to paint. We spent two hours looking through old magazines and nature books to find inspiration – he loves to paint landscapes and birds, although he recently finished an amazing acrylic of the Chicago skyline. I was disappointed that he didn’t get to work, and Thursday, the building was locked, we didn’t have a key, and all of our art materials were inside. The goal of these paintings is to generate him a better income, so it was frustrating that we had an unproductive week.

It seems silly to get upset over two unsuccessful days. This man’s life has been full of ups and downs that reached points much higher and lower than the disappointment of a locked building. I should learn from him that these two days mean nothing in the bigger scheme of what we’re doing, which is slowly building him a better life – and, in talking and looking through photographs, also enjoying the idle time.

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