As Dave continues to lead us through conversations about neighborhood on Tuesday nights, I find myself having all kinds of new experiences as I walk the neighborhood. Some have been incredible, some have been tragic. This has fueled a lot of writing the last few days. I find myself carrying my laptop around, hoping for a few minutes to keep working.
On Saturday, Dave, Everett and I helped distribute food from the USDA with some friends from church, something we do once a month. There were five of us there working, plus our three little kids. There are often little scuffles over bags of food, but I have never experienced something like what happened that morning. I couldn't stop thinking about it, and on my way to Goodwill that afternoon I sat down on a stone wall outside an apartment building and wrote this poem. (By the way, I am not one for swearing, and you will rarely hear me cuss, but there was simply no other appropriate word to use in this poem. Part of writing is being a truth-teller, and I am working on being faithful to that, even though it scares me sometimes.)
Today I walked by a pile of human shit on the sidewalk.
Then I saw my dear, sweet friend screamed at as she handed out bags of groceries.
“Liars! Murderers!” shouted the enormous man.
“I’ve seen what you people are! You come here, kill our families. Stay away from me!”
Silent tears traced her cheeks as she handed him a bag of food.
After, we held each other, and cried, and played with our children.
Some days I think I see the fruit of all we’ve given to this place,
but not today.
As Dave wrote in an email recently, "Lent is a season of darkness – of death – because it’s a time to reflect on our own brokenness and sinfulness, the pain we cause ourselves others, the grief our rejection causes God. Lent is a season of darkness, because on our own, we have little hope." Let us not be afraid to call the darkness what it is, but also look toward the light and hope we find in Easter. And, though the brokenness sometimes overwhelms, let us remember that we walk and live as agents of redemption wherever we go.