Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Billie Jo's Rest

Exhaustion won out at last,
Throwing her to the brick staircase
Ascending to a church whose door is locked against her kind
And the noise of the busy, hustling street below;
Fitting couch for a much too weary pilgrim.

Dirty face pressed almost softly against concrete steps,
Leading no where, except to more of her endless routine--
Forgotten life, surrounded, yet completely alone;
But sound sleep, rest for aching feet and back and limbs,
No one seems to see, no one acts, Billie Jo sleeps.

She, a well-known wanderer,
Up and down these same streets,
Pacing, as if in search of something lost so long ago,
Finding satisfaction in an easy conversation with herself,
Being that no one else seems to have the time, not for her.

All she owns, her special treasure, nestled in a worn plastic bag,
Straining against the weight of forgotten meds and socks,
A sweater even in the festering humidity;
Simple, almost barren life,
Uncluttered by annoying invitations to join friends or anyone.

"Oh, yes, efforts have been made,"
As much as is now allowed for citizens of the street;
But the game has been a long one,
Played well by rules no one understands,
So now, she prefers her brand of freedom, no matter how unforgiving.

Billie Jo sleeps peacefully as angels watch,
And preachers pass by,
And professionals schedule times to try to help yet again
This one lingering soul who fell and now lives beneath gapping cracks;
She knows us better than we know ourselves.

[I have known Billie Jo for most of the past ten years. A decade is quite a long time. Her story is as complex as the city and as simple as the words of Jesus. She is my friend. I pray that I am hers. LJ]


Chad said...


Your meditations on those you genuinely love and serve have challenged me to the core calling into question what I do, why I do it, and who I choose to befriend and serve. I pray that I learn to love in such a way that Billie Jo would indeed consider me a friend.

The following words of Thomas Merton have always been a challenge to me:

"The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them."

Brandon Scott said...