Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Invisibles

The other day I was flipping channels and hit one of those shows that I hate - it was probably "COPS", I'm not sure. I usually turn the channel as fast as possible because I just can't stand to see the way most of the people live who are on those shows. This time I stopped though. They had a drunk guy pinned to his bed in a trailer park and were asking him about beating his wife. They told him the neighbors had seen the whole thing. They went outside and his wife was sitting there, her face all bruised and swollen. She was drunk too. They began to question her and she denied he did anything to her, and defended his actions. The police told her, "Mam, the neighbors saw the whole thing. Are you defending him because he is on parole?" She told them that she had been drinking and didn't want to leave the bar and he had to force her to come home and was trying to force her into the trailer. I sat there and thought about that show and the reason I always turn the channel - because I can't stand to see the way so many people live. And I started to cry. These are people's real lives.

How long are we going to keep flipping the channel?

There is a liquor store directly north of our house on 87th street. As a result there is usually a group of men hanging about. Usually a group of drunk men. When I walk to the church I have to walk through them. I used to resent this. They set out milk crates. I have to step around and over their garbage and broken bottles.They have never bothered me. In Fact they are excessively polite and call me "Mam". A while ago I began to feel my resentment change. They made me think about my grandfather and my uncles. When I would walk by they began to tug at my heart. Now that tug is an all out ache. Now I find that although I hurt over their predicament, I am grateful for their presence. It is the only thing that keeps me from becoming a good church person.

How long are we going to keep stepping around and over them on our way to church?


Christopher said...

once upon a time ago, i stepped over a a little girl on the streets of the capital of albania. that moment has come back often in my reflections and has shaped part of who i am today. the feeling of powerlessness in such situations is a part of the struggle and certianly the lack of compassion. i oftent wonder if i could go back to that moment, would i scoop her up in my arms...

voixd'ange said...

Living in a big City like Chicago we are faced with desperate situations all of the time. Soemtimes it can get to be a bit overwhelming, and a sense of hopelessness can stop you from doing anything, when really we are just called to do what we can.

Christopher said...

"we are just called to do what we can," that's what i been thinking and preaching lately; for me it's the thought of stretching my own self to do what i can do when i can do it...there is a sense that i know ill fall short continually...but i need to focus in on what God puts in front of me. seeing the world through eyes of grace. i suppose that being broken by what we see or at times are too weak to affect is a part of the courage-grace-brokeness that God hopes for us. i very much value your posts; peace to you and yours

voixd'ange said...

Thank you Christopher. I think it was Eleanor Roosevelt who said, "Start were you are.Use what you have.Do what you can."

Dan Trabue said...

Thanks for sharing this, Ange. We're in a similar situation this way. Our church is in "the projects," with a liquor store on the corner in two directions from us. We walk past and welcome in our friends from the street (when they're not too drunk or belligerent).

Or at least it was until last year, when the city "cleaned up" the neighborhood, tore down the projects and liquor stores. We're supposedly having a mixed income neighborhood coming in its place.

We'll see.

Back in the 50s, many churches in Louisville's downtown experienced "white flight" - where they abandoned the downtown areas because they were becoming too scary and too black.

We've been laughing about perhaps needing to move TO a more rough neighborhood if our block becomes too gentrified. Would that be "black flight"?

voixd'ange said...

Maybe -
thanks for sharing your situation with your church. Very interesting turn about.I'm glad that there are churches out there who still feel compelled to the highways and byways.