Sunday, March 26, 2017

Lenten Poem 2: Father Michel Quoist

Another poem from a good friend from Father Michel Quoist. 

The Subway
The last ones squeeze in,
The door rolls shut.
The subway rumbles off,
I can't move.
I am no longer an individual but a crowd,
A crowd that moves in one piece like jellied soup in its can.

A nameless and indifferent crowd, probably far from you, Lord.
I am one with the crowd, and I see why it's sometimes hard for me to rise higher.
The crowd is heavy-leaden soles on my feet, my slow feet-a crowd too large for my overburdened skiff.

Yet, Lord, I have no right to overlook these people; they are my brothers,
And I cannot save myself, alone.


Lord, since you wish it, I shall head for heaven "in the subway."

Friday, March 24, 2017

Lenten poem 1: Father Michel Quoist

A good friend sent me this poem from Father Michel Quoist.  It moved me as I think about the City and faith.

The Wire Fence  
The wires are holding hands around the holes;
To avoid breaking the ring, they hold tight the neighboring wrist, 
And it's thus that with holes they make a fence.

Lord, there are lots of holes in my life.
There are some in the lives of my neighbors.
But if you wish, we shall hold hands,
We shall hold very tight,
And together we shall make a fine roll of fence to adorn Paradise.


Monday, January 23, 2017

Racism, location and enduring poverty

Living in a poor neighborhood changes everything about your life


In 1940, a white developer wanted to build a neighborhood in Detroit.
 
So he asked the US Federal Housing Administration to back a loan. The FHA, which was created just six years earlier to help middle-class families buy homes, said no because the development was too close to an "inharmonious" racial group.

Meaning black people.

Read and view more  here.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Holy Unrest

   Divine Dissatisfaction

Let us go out with a divine dissatisfaction.
Let us be dissatisfied
until America will no longer have
a high blood pressure of creeds
and an anemia of deeds.
Let us be dissatisfied until the tragic walls
that separate the outer city of wealth and comfort
and the inner city of poverty and despair
shall be crushed by the battering rams
of the forces of justice. Let us be dissatisfied
until those that live on the outskirts of hope
are brought into the metropolis of daily security.
Let us be dissatisfied until slums are cast
into the junk heaps of history,
and every family is living
in a decent sanitary home.
Let us be dissatisfied
until the dark yesterdays of segregated schools
will be transformed into bright tomorrows
of quality, integrated education.
Let us be dissatisfied until integration
is not seen as a problem
but as an opportunity to participate
in the beauty of diversity.
Let us be dissatisfied until men and women,
however black they may be, will be judged
on the basis of the content of their character
and not on the basis of the color of their skin.
Let us be dissatisfied.

Let us be dissatisfied until every state capitol
houses a governor who will do justly, who will love
mercy and who will walk humbly with his God.
Let us be dissatisfied until from every city hall,
justice will roll down like waters and righteousness
like a mighty stream. Let us be dissatisfied
until that day when the lion and the lamb
shall lie down together, and every man
will sit under his own vine and fig tree
and none shall be afraid. Let us be dissatisfied.

Let us be dissatisfied until that day
when nobody will shout White Power!
—when nobody will shout Black Power!—
but everybody will talk about
God’s power and human power.

The road ahead will not always be smooth.
There will be still rocky places of frustration
and meandering points of bewilderment.
There will be inevitable setbacks here and there.
There will be those moments
when the buoyancy of hope will be transformed
into the fatigue of despair. Our dreams
will sometimes be shattered and our ethereal hopes blasted.
The road ahead will not always be smooth.
There will be still rocky places of frustration
and meandering points of bewilderment.
There will be inevitable setbacks here and there.
There will be those moments when the buoyancy of hope
will be transformed into the fatigue of despair.
Our dreams will sometimes be shattered
and our ethereal hopes blasted.

Difficult and painful as it is, we must walk on
in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future.





Thursday, January 19, 2017

Change makers

Here’s to the Crazy Ones

Here’s to the crazy ones.
The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.

You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them,
disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things.
They invent. They imagine.
They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire.
They push the human race forward.
Maybe they have to be crazy.

How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art?
Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written?
Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?
While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.

Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world,
are the ones who do.

Jack Kerouac

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Prophetic Communities


The Church’s Role


The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority. If the church does not participate actively in the struggle for peace and for economic and racial justice, it will forfeit the loyalty of millions and cause men everywhere to say that it has atrophied its will. But if the church will free itself from the shackles of a deadening status quo, and, recovering its great historic mission, will speak and act fearlessly and insistently in terms of justice and peace, it will enkindle the imagination of mankind and fire the souls of men, imbuing them with a glowing and ardent love for truth, justice, and peace. Men far and near will know the church as a great fellowship of love that provides light and bread for lonely travelers at midnight.

Friday, January 13, 2017

My friend Terry, the entrepreneur

After weeks of above average temperatures in Dallas, the cold snap whipped us hard last Tuesday night.  I mean, from over 70 to below 40, that's a real snap!

Upon arriving at my office Wednesday morning, I found this note taped to my door.


Terry and I have been friends for a few years.  We met on the street when he approached me offering to do a couple of card tricks.  I obliged with a $5 tip.  He wowed me and others who gathered with his 1/2 magic, 1/2 stand up routine.

He's never been much of a beggar or panhandler with me.  Too proud and independent.  Only when really pressed to the edges does he ask for help of any kind.  Last Tuesday evening at the end of the day, he stopped to see me to ask for special assistance as the note reflects.

I was busy when he came in, and he was gone when I got free.

This note shook me a bit, as I thought through what the night must have been like for him outside.  I had seen him the day before, and finally convinced him to make an appointment to see our staff who could really help him head in a new direction.  We talked several times that day, actually to the point of distraction.

As I worried about him on Wednesday morning, he showed up for a cup of coffee!  It was a relief to see him.

I asked him if he had made the arrangement with his friend to stay in out of the weather.  He told me that he had solved the problem himself.  He then went on to tell me how he had found shelter back of a restaurant dumpster.  He went into great detail about how he used scrap lumber and tin siding to construct a warm little home that blocked the wind that forced him to bed down around 9 p.m.

"That little house made me happy," he told me.  "It was just too cold to stay up, so I went to bed when I finished building it.  I got a good night's sleep, Larry!" he exclaimed.

When I commented about my amazement at his creativity and toughness, he simply replied, "Well, Larry, you know me; I'm an entrepreneur at heart."   

Well, Terry, that's one way to look at it for sure.

Just one snapshot from a guy I count as a friend. . .and, we're working on finding real housing for him.