Monday, June 02, 2008

The gap

Wednesday, thanks to a bit of a glitch in the agenda, I sat in the Dallas City Council meeting for almost seven hours. Quite an experience to take in almost all of the entire meeting! My hat is off to our mayor and our council members for their willingness to do so for the common good.

During the afternoon session, the meeting room filled with very well-dressed people, well over 100 of them. When their time on the agenda came, it became very clear that the group was divided between those who favored the development of a luxury hotel/condo project down along the Katy Trail and those who were against it.

The testimony was interesting. The project fairly amazing. The conversation among council members very civil. The project was approved unanimously over the judgment of the City Planning Commission.

When our business was completed (the council voted to award our citywalk project $1.5 million in bond funds for homeless housing), I decided to drop in on The Bridge, our new homeless assistance center Downtown. I walked in and began roaming around asking folks how they liked the new facility.

Lots of honest conversation ensued. There are some bugs in the new building and the staff is working hard to resolve them. One fellow told me he believed the whole project was to provide a place for the homeless to be hidden from the rest of Dallas. Almost everyone I spoke with was grateful for the place.

The overriding impression I received was that of an extremely welcoming place.

The numbers seem to back up my impression. The Bridge is seeing about 1,000 people a day! I expect that is about 50% more than anyone planned for. But, that brings me back to that welcoming thing.

The place could just as easily have been named "The Oasis," because that is what it feels like to lots of people who are coming there. Just a place to sit down, to rest, to regain one's legs, to feel as if someone really cares. . .unconditionally. Clearly, The Bridge is not a place of condemnation, but a place of hope and friendship.

Not surprisingly, I ran into a number of men that I knew, guys who had passed through my world at CDM. Felt like a reunion!

As I drove away, I couldn't help contrast the two worlds I'd experienced in just a few hours. Two very, very different worlds. Two worlds that are drifting apart quickly, as the economic gap between the two widens daily.

The gap is sad to me. The people aren't all that different, though they may all think they are. But, they aren't.

Discovering beauty in both worlds is the challenge. Putting an end to the divide, slowing the division, the call.

And then, there is the small matter of justice, human dignity and simply loving "Lazarus."



Adam Gonnerman said...

The gap is enormous in Brazil, where I served and hope to serve again as a missionary. The amazing thing to see, though, were the mansions in Rio de Janeiro surrounded by favela (slums). Right up against the shiny white walls of mansions there were shanties. Next door but worlds apart. Remarkable.

Jeremy Gregg said...

The Dallas Morning News cited this blog on their blog here: