Our culture’s social rejection of people who experience mental illness, poverty, and addictions indicates a need to re-evaluate what is considered valuable in a life. This is exactly what BHM does: in the midst of a culture that tends to prioritize reason, individualism, and economic profit, we honour the holiness of each person. Many of the individuals in boarding homes have been neglected and dismissed by the people surrounding them. And yet, in their presence, BHM team members witness moments of profound beauty, strength, and wisdom.
Advocacy for BHM is about the transformation of hearts. Although a political focus around justice in housing is important, our focus has always been social inclusion. Stigma is one of the biggest barriers to full community, and we address this through multifaceted community advocacy. We offer workshops and retreats for members of faith communities seeking to learn how to be better companions to people with mental illnesses in their midst. We engage in education as advocacy, presenting at conferences and engaging in thoughtful research and dialogue with the academic community.
Transformation of hearts must be done in practice and experience, not only in theory. We teach skills, specifically spiritual practices that can help people to be more empathic and enact inclusion. Our advocacy work aims to create circumstances that open hearts to the work of grace, and create spaces where the spirit can play in our midst. Through heart transformation, we hope to help people see with new eyes.
BHM advocates for the value of quiet attention and agenda-free presence, as it offers rare respite within a culture that is bent towards productivity and cost-efficiency. Volunteers are encouraged to be rather than do, making BHM somewhat unique within Canada’s greater framework of care. Advocating for better care or housing standards is a delicate matter as our invitation to homes may be revoked at any time. However, BHM is committed to being an innovative voice in discourse and research on mental health care and spirituality.