Well, it’s been awhile since we talked. However, it’s not your fault. I just ran out of words. So I went back to winnowing and sorting through the stuff of my life. And I prayed. Some days I need reassurance God’s not given up on us. And maybe, more concerned, that we won’t give up on God or each other.
Like I said, my focus shifted to winnowing and sorting. And every now and then, a reward showed up, like a piece written by Mike Barnicle in 1990. (I’m a little behind in the sift and ditch department.) Mike recounted the following glimpse into a kid from Roxbury:
“He wore only a short cloth coat zippered up to his neck to battle the winter weather. He crossed the road at the construction site, and wandered up into an empty field where buildings once stood. Slowly, he walked back and forth through the tall, uncut winter grass, occasionally bending over to pick up pieces of wood. ‘What’s the wood for?’ he was asked. ‘Gonna build something,’ he said. The boy said he was twelve, the eldest of five. He planned to surprise his Mama with a footstool for Christmas.”
Thirty years later, I’m still challenged by these three words. How? Well, sometimes I feel like we’re living in a strange place, “an empty field where buildings once stood.” What buildings? Well, more like building blocks of a more civilized place. What’s happened to truth, democracy, moral codes and those long-held norms that keep a society from unraveling? And when did respect for the flag, for some, become a weapon to attack “liberty and justice for all”?
Perhaps, we need to summon the twelve year old in us, full of hope, who sees a vacant lot as a field of dreams, a place where treasures hide. And then I wonder, “How can we encourage each other to ‘walk back and forth’ between the aisles that divide, and to ‘occasionally bend over to pick up’ discarded people and broken promises?” What if we came together to join in a holy hunt for sacred scraps? They rest in pieces, abandoned building blocks among ‘the tall, uncut winter grasses.’
Christmas is coming.
And that is good news amid all the bad and disturbing words written, tweeted or spoken. As I write, I’m reminded that the boy of twelve is now a man of 42, if he survived the tough area where he lived. But the same God who risked it all to enter our chaos as a baby, Jesus, loves that boy and walked with him on their holy hunt to gather leftover lumber to make something useful and beautiful for his Mama. Love at work.
We’re living in a land that needs some healing rest?
Nothing heals like love or gives a leg up, like a footstool.
Wanna build something?
“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
(I Corinthians 13: 4-7 , NLT)
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