Saturday, February 19, 2011

As the Citizen Among You

The alien who resides with you in your land shall be as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:34

President Obama was at my daughter's workplace yesterday. She took these pictures herself, the one below just after he reached out to shake her hand. The President is out acting as Cheerleader-in-Chief attempting to rally our country out of the doldrums.

Lord knows, we do need a rally.

There is a place for hoping that our high-tech sector can help put more people here back to work. That would be a mega hope.

Mini hope needs exist all around us. Here are three examples from real life of the past three days:

Tom and I met for the first time at Tuesday evening’s Bible study. We always have soup and bread before we launch into Scripture and, for the past few weeks, Rob Bell’s wonderful little short films that I just can’t diminish by calling them DVD’s or videos. He sat at a table by himself in his black jacket with extra hardware, keys, bicycle lights and jeans about 6 inches too large and bunched at the waist. Wet spot on the seat of them… Since he was new to the group, I asked if I could join him with my bowl of noodles and bread. “Sure, no problem,” he said. He had lots to say, but it came out in a kind of mumbled stream which I did my best to decipher. As we ate, a little yellow bug ran out of his stocking cap across the table at me. I smashed it as promptly as I could without making a scene. Little yellow bugs are Tom’s closest companions. He was very attentive during Bible study, enjoyed Bell’s film. After a smoke on the patio, Tom went back out into his world and I to mine.

A woman I know named L. was going to Salem this past Monday to testify at the Legislature about the need to maintain services and housing for mentally ill folks. Knowing how L. gets trapped inside of sentences that she enters but can’t seem to exit, I can only wonder what message she could have brought them, though none more powerful than her own honest presence. Intelligence and chaos rule her life.

What were Tom and L. like when they were school age? What got them to where they are now? How much money are we saving by keeping Tom homeless, and how much would we “save” if we made L. that way?

An insurance company has told a mother of two students at my wife’s school that they will no longer pay for the meds these little kids need in order to be something other than nearly asleep with depression or else unable to sit still and be quiet for more than 5 seconds. An insurance company wants to “save” money by helping to manufacture replacements for Tom and L. when they are no longer with us.

Letter after letter to the paper complains that Portland is a homeless magnet because we are too kind and the police not aggressive enough even as incidents of suicide by cop and murder by arrest are up. Stories from my writer friend Karen Zacharias affirm what we must know if we open our eyes: that people living tough lives are all around us and within us. They are still in NYC even if people who visit Disneyfied Times Square no longer see them there. They are in rural Nebraska, small towns in the South and in Eastern Oregon, in this small city we call home.
And so is the kingdom of God.

No comments: