A dear friend Paige sent me the most amazing book. She mailed Morris and I each our own copy from Colorado to Uganda. It is one of the most priceless gifts I have ever received. My copy is dog-eared, the text is underline, highlighted, there are doodles all throughout the margins. It is well loved. The book: Tattoos on the Heart by Father Gregory Boyle, a Jesuit priest who founded Homeboy Industries which works with gangs in East L.A. Lira is definitely not East L.A. though in a touch of poetic irony people here do call it LA. And the street kids we work with are certainly not the same as the gang members from Homeboy Industries. But there are similarities and parallels. Too many to count, so I reckon you should just read the book yourself.
I read the book again and again for inspiration. Each time I learn something new and my heart grows a smidgen bigger. I am certainly no Father G, but I tell you I can think of nobody better to look up to.
My obsession for this book is well-known, so much so that another wonderful friend, Kirsten, sent me a podcast of interviews with Gregory Boyle, himself. And this part of the interview, this simple question and its humble responds renews me with purpose each day. Maybe you too will see the beauty…
The interviewer asked, “How do you get up every day and smile at these kids who do drugs, sell drugs, murder, steal?” Father G replied, “I would rather stand in awe of the burdens these kids bear than stand in judgment of the way they bear them.”
That is how I feel about the kids at Atin. They have done things that I cannot imagine. They still do things that I don’t approve of or understand. But each day I have a choice, I can sit in judgement and presume that I know best, or I can have the grace to say ‘Wow, look at the load they carry.’ and appreciate their struggle each day to become the best guys and gals they call be. Like Father G, I choose option B.