Showing posts from June, 2019

The America I Love

Let’s call him Matthew. His age is somewhere between 30 and 40. When he smiles you can tell he never got the dental work he needed—but his smile radiates joy anyway.
If Matthew had money at some point, it paid for a plethora of imaginative tattoos—from head to toe. 
His ear gages add character as well. Then there are the scars that tell the story of how Matthew faced death and won. 
While riding his bike (his only means of transportation) he was hit by a car. Biking in downtown Seattle has its advantages—he was minutes from the best trauma center in the region. It saved his life.
Yet, I’ve never heard him complain. He’s a hard worker, exuberantly talkative, most likely has an alcohol problem, and can’t find steady work. 

But someone I love hires him whenever he can. Matthew will dig ditches, haul weeds, move wheelbarrows full of rock and dirt. And smile while doing it. He’ll chat with you about whatever is on your mind and add effervescence to any conversation. And he sips a beer between h…

Simple Things

It was our first time in the playground together. We held hands going down the slide. 
Then I pushed her in the swing. 
Even the sand box area had shovels and dump trucks for imaginative play. 
We walked across a small bridge to a wooden castle. She peered through the opening and looked at the kids outside.

I followed her toddler steps. But she soon left all the attractions of the play area and found a paved walkway. 
I’d have preferred the grass in case her quickly moving feet tripped, but she seemed to know she could go faster on the pavement.

Then something caught her eye. A string. She sat down and pulled it between her fingers and stretched her arms to extend it.
For the rest of our playtime, the string was her sole entertainment. I marveled at how the slide, swings, and a sweet castle hadn’t captured her attention. A string had.

Driving with Dad

My parents owned a car and a truck—both with standard transmissions—so when I was learning to drive, I had to figure out the intricate use of three pedals on the floorboard. 
Dad had learned to drive a stick shift in the wheat fields of Eastern Washington, so he volunteered to teach me.
We went to the abandoned airport—with long runways and nothing to crash into. Like a new clutch-using driver, I killed the engine repeatedly. 

We lurched and stopped. Lurched and stopped. Dad made me laugh—sparing me humiliation and keeping me willing to try.

It wasn’t long before I’d mastered the art of “not killing it” to get the car moving. Then it was learning how to shift—which involved some grinding of gears—again my Dad supplied the jokes and we were smiling at my lame attempts.

Soon, we were touring side streets and using quiet neighborhood stop signs as start-up practice. Things were going great. Confidence was built. Then Dad introduced me to a stop sign perched on a slight hill. No one was behind…

Building Hope

Back in 1892, construction began on New York City’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine. 
Forty years later, workers were still laboring on the huge Gothic structure. Steel was needed for World War II, so construction was halted. But church services continued.
After the war, the neighborhood began changing. The once stately homes around the huge church fell into disrepair. Poverty surrounded the unfinished church.

Church members decided they’d rather help the poor, than finish the construction. To them, the unfinished church represented the unfinished work of Jesus in the world.
So, the church became a lifeline of food, clothing, and shelter for New York City’s poorest. 
But then something grand happened. Supplying basic needs is good, but providing hope is even better. 

So, the church’s masonry experts trained a new generation of youthful workers from the surrounding streets. 
A high school dropout eventually became the stone-yard manager.
One of the largest Gothic churches in the world was fin…