Friday, September 10, 2004

Mark and Sheri

The other night, we had our new friends Mark and Sheri over for a few hours to our new apartment. We met Sheri on the street corner last week, holding a little sign, "homeless, please help." We talked for awhile. The next evening, my wife sent the kids down to her with a plate of her very special chile relleno. Later, she introduced me to her husband Mark (he works the opposite corner); Sheri wanted me to meet him so I could beat a little God talk into him, but I told them I'm not really all that pushy about the whole God thing. I invited them to come over to our place and get washed up sometime. So they came over, took a shower, washed their clothes (it had been two months), had some tea, and we talked.

Mark is a writer, he read some of his writing to us. He's very good, his writing speaks to the inner life of someone who has done a lot of thinking, a lot of contemplating, a lot of reflecting. He only has a seventh grade education, but he writes at a college level, and with a little polishing he could be a columnist, maybe a novelist. He wants to go to college and study writing. He has dreams, aspirations. But he's standing on the street corner, using his gifts to chat up enough money for their next meal. We are losing his skills to the street.

When it was all over, we said goodnight and showed them to the door, knowing that they were not going to get into the car and drive home like ordinary guests, but catch the tram back to their little park where they will try to live out another night without getting mugged or killed, lying huddled together in the darkness.

"Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none, and whoever has food must do the same." This was the teaching of St. John the Baptist, the content of the repentance he preached. His preaching is a preparatory message, a message of justice that prepares the way for the Gospel of compassion. To make ready the way of the Lord, "every mountain shall be made low, and every valley shall be exalted." A great and cosmic leveling must take place, "putting down the mighty from their thrones and exalting those of low degree, filling the hungry with good things, and sending the rich away empty."

Have we even made a beginning?


In this moment we are forgetting
What it costs, what it takes
For one perfect world
When we look the other way.

--Amy Ray, The Indigo Girls

1 comment:

olympiada said...

thank you for sharing, i especially like this "We are losing his skills to the street."
and this
"This was the teaching of St. John the Baptist, the content of the repentance he preached. His preaching is a preparatory message, a message of justice that prepares the way for the Gospel of compassion."
I did not know that the message of St. John the Baptist was that of justice. St. John is the male archetype for the EO man as presented by Paul Evodkimov, so this is an interesting point for reflection.