I was first introduced to Maraion through a video, and then I visited her house twice. It wasn’t until months later that we actually met face to face.
One way our Sisters on Purpose-AZ group encourages, supports, and empowers women is through reaching out in the community to help others; and once a month we gather to provide a service. One of our ‘Sisters’ shared about an organization she held an affinity for called MOMA’s House. MOMA’s House is a safe house for women who are victims of domestic violence. It also serves as a place of refuge for women and girls escaping imprisonment of the sex trafficking trade. (Yes, sex trafficking is right in our own backyard, and it’s a HUGE problem.)
On our first visit, a group of us made breakfast for the women in the program and did a fun little project making jewelry with them. But mostly it was time spent visiting, connecting, and letting them know there are women in their corner who support and encourage them.
Before each project, new volunteers are required to view a brief video about MOMA’s House, its founder, and its mission. That’s where I first saw Maraion. I can’t tell you how moved I was by not only her story, but by her passion for the women under her care and her conviction of purpose. Her big heart filled the room, and many women were moved to tears while watching her on the video.
We went back again to help in cleaning, reorganizing and redecorating the women’s individual bedrooms to make them more comfortable and prettier. This sparked a complete renovation by a group of talented and generous young women who are interior designers. The rooms are now gorgeous!
In writing ‘The Path That Beckons’, Maraion came to mind several times. I knew her experiences would add so much, but I wasn’t sure which chapter would be the best fit. Her story has so many layers, it could inspire under the chapters of Courage, Hope, Infinite Possibilities, etc. But the one that jumped out to me was the chapter entitled ‘The Path of Being Present’. I didn’t even know why, but I trusted my feeling.
I called Maraion and asked if we could meet. She graciously accepted. I was a little nervous for our meeting. I’d seen her on the television screen and and I felt as if I knew her. She, on the other hand, didn’t know me from Adam.
She sat by me at the kitchen table at MOMA’s house, and talked in between bites of lunch she’d just grabbed at a take-out drive through. She apologized, but said she’d been running and hadn’t had a chance to eat yet. I sensed this was probably the norm for her. That was no problem for me, I was just grateful she would fit me into her busy day.
The kindness and love she portrayed on the video was now real and ten-fold as I sat just a few feet away from her. She openly shared her story with me; her own experience with domestic abuse, verbal abuse, feeling called to open MOMA’s House, fear of leaving a secure corporate career, ignoring the naysayers, and the continued struggle to financially stay afloat in this labor of love.
I was inspired by her faith, that deep knowing she is taken care of in spite of the conditions around her. Several times she wanted to give up and go back to a safe ‘job’, but she felt God laid out this plan for her, and she was the one that needed to carry it forth. So she does.
She has a true love and heart for the women that stay for a time at her place. Her desire is to help them and make a profound difference in their lives, and I don’t think anyone can say that’s not happening. She doesn’t get caught up with the numbers that come through her program, as that seems to be the question many ask of her to determine her value. She says she’s satisfied if it’s only one. That’s one woman whose life is better.
Since writing her chapter, she shared with me it was the right chapter for her. She believes many times in our lives when we’ve experienced difficult times, it’s hard to move forward and live in the present. We keep stuck with the past. She said reflecting and telling her story has been a healing experience. One that affirms what she’s doing, and how the past can be left in the past to enjoy the ‘present’ that is today.
Thank you, Miss Maraion, for your generosity and your beautiful spirit. I love you.