When folks visit the neighborhood, they often comment on the litter,
the trash that seems to line our alleys and streets.
I was reminded of that this Sunday. Just one day before that, I had made a pretty intentional effort to tidy up my section of the block. It looked pretty good. However, that same evening we had some pretty big wind gusts. Sunday morning, I awoke to a block that was covered with new garbage. All the work appeared to be undone.
I sat and pondered this reality. Wow! This is a lot like inner city ministry. After being here for nearly 15 years, my
frustrations can mirror my vision of trash clean up.
I can yell to the heavens, “I just got this thing clean... What is going on?”
We make incredible investments in the lives of our youth, but the winds will come. They are strong gusts that shake houses and households. That wind is sometimes poverty, other times abuse or instability in the home caused by incarceration or drug addiction. The winds howl and we start to believe that everything that was made new and beautiful in the lives of our students are undone. Our frustration or sense that there should be some quick answer that will ‘fix’ all these things and make them immediately right lead us to a place of hopelessness.
Sunday morning… I was feeling it a little because there was garbage back in my yard and in my street. But Sunday afternoon was different.
At 2 pm I ran into a wonderful lady from a local church in my community. She was picking up trash.
She is incredibly faithful. It reminded me of a conversation that I had with her on a day long past. She was out picking up trash the day after I had picked up garbage and I made a comment, “I picked stuff up yesterday and it is right back where it was before I picked up anything.” She gave me a smile and as she picked up litter replied, “That won’t be true for long. I’m gonna get it today.”
Turns out I am not in this alone and that gives me a great deal of hope.
Our major strategy with CHAT is called ‘deep and wide’. It represents our desire to deepen the investment (time, energy, resources) in every student. We want to invest deeply in the lives of our students. Our second strategy is to widen their social network by leveraging for 10 positive encounters with adults each week that are dedicated to their flourishing and growth. This is not easy, but in a place where the winds blow hard, we need people showing up every day (a lot of them) to make small and large investments in the lives of our youth.
The brokenness that our youth endure cannot even for a moment cover the beauty and potential that rests within.
Thank you for being a part of the network that sees this become a reality.