In years of housing individuals experiencing chronic homelessness, there were always two moments in particular that almost universally brought about an emotional reaction from even the toughest client.
The first: handing over the key. Even more than unlocking the door for the first time (always a seriously cool moment itself), handing someone the key meant handing them a new way of life, and the freedom to exercise it. My home. Mine. No matter what brought me here today, now I control the lock on the door, and I may come and go as I please, with dignity. I've heard those words in so many ways from so many people: in sentences, in smiles, in tears.
The second is after walking in the front door, after seeing the living room and the kitchen, the bathroom. Those are all met with due respect, as they are the rooms in which a person will bustle, entertain guests, sing with the radio/dance with the mop, store their things, and generally go about their business--the rooms where they will live. Then, usually last, they see their bedroom.
That is the moment, when they see their very own bed, with very own pillows and blankets all ready to welcome them.
There are few things that symbolize tranquility and safety more than the sight of a clean, comfortable bed. After an experience of homelessness, the impact increases exponentially. May I lay my burdens down, close my eyes, and leave all else outside behind me. So often more poignant than the rooms where a person will roam in and out in wakefulness, is the place they may finally rest.
Even for myself, there is not much better in the world for improving my sleep than the feel and smell of a fresh set of sheets. It is comforting and refreshing, and though it sounds silly, keeps me in the moment and more mindful of relaxing rather than worrying so much about tomorrow. Clean sheets, clean slate.
Each new day is an opportunity to bury the pains of yesterday and start anew. This is true in life, in writing, and muscle soreness from the gym. Of course, that's easy to say, but it is not always easy to do (especially regarding the gym). It takes mindfulness, discipline, and that which allows us to tackle our mountains and which eludes us without peace, safety, comfort (and occasionally fresh, crisp, sweet-smelling sheets): rest.