Thursday, September 20, 2012

India # 8 TATTOOS ON THE HEART



Before I left, Susan Dillon, an old friend from my days with Shalem, a meditation group which had been an important part of my life from l974 to ’84 in Washington, gave me a book she thought would serve me well, so on the way over I read “Tatoos on the Heart.” It is by a Jesuit priest, Gregory Boyle, who lives among the gang members of Los Angeles, providing them with jobs and dignity and often burying the young men we meet on the book’s pages.

It is not a book about gang members who found God and went straight or the good being done with Hollywood money, although that’s in there.  He’s not writing about before and after, reform and redemption. Instead, Boyle only wants to convince young men who have lived all of their lives in fear that ‘they are exactly what God had in mind when God made them.”     

“No need to contort yourself to be anything other than who you are,” he write about Jason.  He delights for another gang member when he feels “home sweet home in his own skin.”   It is “a matter of returning, not measuring up.”

After a lifetime of straining to achieve, I  could stop right there and  have plenty to absorb notwithstanding that we’ve all heard this before.  But I also want to set out four excerpts in which he addresses our relationship with “the poor:”

·      The wrong idea has taken root in the world.  And the idea is this: there just might be lives out there that matter less than other lives.

·      Often we strike the high moral distance that separates ‘us’ from ‘them,’ and yet God’s dream comes true when we recognize there is no daylight between us.  Serving others is good.  It’s a start. But kinship is better—not serving the other, but being one with the other.

·      Jesus was not ‘a man for others’; he was one with them.  There is a world of difference in that…. He wasn’t with the outlaws he was an outlaw.

·      Here is what we seek: a compassion that can stand in awe at what the poor have to carry rather than stand in judgment at how they carry it.

I’ll be taking this with me: I didn’t come here to serve but to be with.  

  

 

          

 

 

TATTOOS ON THE HEART

Before I left, Susan Dillon, an old friend from my days with Shalem, a meditation group of which I had been a part from l974 to ’84 in Washington, gave me a book she thought would serve me well, so on the way over I read “Tatoos on the Heart.” It is by a Jesuit priest, Gregory Boyle, who lives among the gang members of Los Angeles, providing them with jobs and dignity and often burying the young men we meet on the book’s pages.

It is not a book about gang members who found God and went straight or the good being done with Hollywood money, although that’s in there.  He’s not writing about before and after, reform and redemption. Instead, Boyle only wants to convince young men who have lived all of their lives in fear that ‘they are exactly what God had in mind when God made them.”     

“No need to contort yourself to be anything other than who you are,” he write about Jason.  He delights for another gang member when he feels “home sweet home in his own skin.”   It is “a matter of returning, not measuring up.”

After a lifetime of straining to achieve, I  could stop right there and  have plenty to absorb notwithstanding that we’ve all heard this before.  But I also want to set out four excerpts in which he addresses our relationship with “the poor:”

·      The wrong idea has taken root in the world.  And the idea is this: there just might be lives out there that matter less than other lives.

·      Often we strike the high moral distance that separates ‘us’ from ‘them,’ and yet it is God’s dream come true when we recognize there is no daylight between us.  Serving others is good.  It’s a start. But kinship is better—not serving the other, but being one with the other.

·      Jesus was not ‘a man for others’; he was one with them.  There is a world of difference in that…. He wasn’t with the outlaws he was an outlaw.

·      Here is what we seek: a compassion that can stand in awe at what the poor have to carry rather than stand in judgment at how they carry it.

I’ll taking this with me: I didn’t come here to serve but rather to be with.  

  

 

          

 

 

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