Someone once observed "that the kitchen is the heart of any home, but the porch is its soul."
I get that.
I've spent a good deal of time thinking about porches lately.
As I've reported previously, every Thursday that I'm in town, I sit on the porch of an old, abandoned house on Malcolm X Boulevard. I try to bring an ice chest of bottled water to share with passersby, as well as those who choose to stop and sit a while for a visit.
Almost all of the people I meet on this porch live on the streets of Dallas. Almost all are extremely poor. Most face challenges that I can't begin to comprehend. But we have a grand time.
Recently, I sat on another porch that appeared quite different.
This second porch attached itself to a beautiful lodge nestled beside the White River outside Harrison, Arkansas. Six of us, some acquainted and some not, made the trip to fly fish and enjoy the beauty of the river and its environs.
What a trip! And we caught lots and lots of trout!
Every evening before enjoying a great meal prepared for us by the lodge owners, we would retreat to the back porch to visit and recount the day's fishing adventure.
After dinner, we migrated back to the porch to look at the stars, listen to the river, enjoy a night cap and visit some more.
On the surface these two porches would appear to have nothing whatsoever in common.
Abandoned, old, decaying house with porch to match versus the luxury and comfort of a well-maintained lodge home with open air, covered porch.
Beneath the surface where things happen that really matter, the two porches share so much in common.
On each porch, men sit and talk and laugh and enjoy each other's company.
On each porch, men reflect on family, finances, dreams, experiences and life.
On both porches, men really connect.
On both porches, men envision a better life, discuss hopes and dreams, recall setbacks and laugh about some truly stupid mistakes.
On both, a group of men enjoy fellowship, community, mutual support.
On each porch things happen, things verbalized that build up and nurture self-worth and value.
As I reflect, the amazing thing to me is just how similar the two "porch experiences" really are.
Here's the challenge: how do I get the lives of the people hanging out on these two porches to intersect?
I know in my gut that such gatherings, especially if they were frequent, would transform the participants and, even more, our community.
Larry's new book, now available from Amazon.com! Also, now in Kindle format! To place your order visit Amazon.com today! Also, available at Barnes and Noble bookstores and on the web. Click on the image above to order!
Larry James' Urban Daily
A repository of ideas, resources, commentary and opinions concerning the issues facing low-income residents of the inner cities of the United States and how mainstream America largely forgets or, worse, ignores the day-to-day realities of urban life for the so-called "poor." Written and edited by the President & CEO of CitySquare. Please visit CitySquare.
Today and throughout 2013, we need your support to continue our life-changing work in inner-city Dallas. Every day hundreds of our wonderful neighbors arrive at our doors seeking our assistance, offering their help and prepared to pursue a better life. Frankly, the folks we "serve" make essential contributions to the scope, nature and soul of the work we attempt. At CitySquare we honor and recognize the amazing value and richness of our low-income neighbors. During 2012, almost 55,000 different people received the benefit of our wide-ranging services designed to assist in the process of building better lives. We need your help TODAY as we continue to respond to the needs of our community. Even more, we need you to become our PARTNER in the work of compassion and community renewal--work that continues day after day at CitySquare.