Yesterday, during Presencia’s after-school program, I heard a knock on the door, opened it immediately, and looked out into an empty hallway.
I closed the door and returned to cooking spaghetti for our students, and I didn’t think about the incident again until Jeniffer, our assistant manager, called later at night, sounding breathless and a little shaky.
She said that a few more knocks had occurred during the day, and that the staff had felt growing concern each time they opened the door and didn’t see anyone there or hear any footsteps retreating down the hallway.
One of our staff was talking about how she wasn’t worried because she didn’t believe in ghosts when the hallway light flickered on behind her for no apparent reason.
Then, after the students left, knocks started coming from empty rooms inside the apartment.
I knew our staff would be meeting with my friend David Kim, the student pastor of Open Table Community Church, for mentoring, so I asked Jeniffer if she had talked with him about what they were experiencing.
“He was there. He heard it too,” she told me.
After I made sure that everyone was safe and that the apartment was locked up, I tried to process the story and figure out what to do. Jeniffer and I joked about this bizarre situation.
“I mean, we both watch a lot of horror movies,” Jenny said, “I’m not going back to that apartment. you know we minorities are always getting killed off first.”
“I know, but as a white person, I feel like I have to leave the house and go out into the dark to check on any unexplained noise.”
Her voice turned serious, and she said, “Don’t go to the Presencia apartment tonight.”
I circled back with David, and he confirmed the story and confessed to feeling unnerved.
Weird events like this are a fact of growing up in our neighborhood. Every member of our staff and most of our students have stories of seeing or hearing odd things in the dark. Over the years, we have visited our neighbors to address their fears and pray with them.
So why am I telling you this story? I think it’s important that the Presencia family knows what kinds of challenges we face working in a community plagued by fear.
I think what we’re going through illustrates a lot of important things about Presencia’s work. Our staff lives, works, and cares for children at the center of a lot of tensions. Some of those tensions are racial, some are political, some are sexual, and some are spiritual. As we enter the life of this neighborhood, we experience the challenges of the place together with our neighbors.
Ultimately, I don’t know what made those noises, what turned those lights on and off, what swung those doors open and shut. I don’t think it matters that I know. What does matter is that we as a team learn to navigate our fears together so that we can light the way for the children under our care.
This encounter with fear can either be just another spooky story, or it can be an opportunity to grow together as a team so we can pass our faith, hope, and courage on to the next generation.
Have a hopeful Friday,
Director of Communications