Spring flowers do not fear stepping out; unfolding to include all of the arrayed light. Yes, it is okay to extend the covenant of living to reach folks carrying the heavy stuff placed in their arms by the hopers of the gospel of help. A good conversation where words do surgery teaches me to prepare my inner child's voice to expand the prophetic imagination. Channeled anger resists truth-telling accountable to no one in a responsible position with any power over who is more exceptional in providing charity to those who know no justice. All people color when leading the march to eliminate silence as a standard of perfection. So pick your own assortment of phrases that will help you resist isolation from the practice of calling out and bringing nothing in except another challenge to hope that others will take care of the self while delivering gifts of care to the community.
In every generation beauty and truth call one or two persons to join the circle of the courageous who stand on the straight line to death bending that long inevitable way across the universe into an arc towards justice.
Fifty-four years old. Fifty-four years of being one of the lucky ones to call a particular address “Home.” Fifty-four years of memory…
I was born at 2560 Ridge Avenue in an Evanston Hospital delivery room. I have been told there was a snow event that day. A few days later I took my first car ride south down Ridge Avenue to an apartment building at the corner of Maple Avenue and Noyes Street – right next to the Noyes Station on Chicago’s ‘L’ (Elevated) Purple Line. I don’t remember my first home nor do I remember the sound of the L right outside my bedroom. Development psychologists would say that the sounds reverberating through my first home as L cars went by shaped my sense of wonder and the peace that I feel when I hear a train. (Just this past weekend I waited for sleep lying in my boyhood bed while visiting my brother and heard the sounds of a train whistle and the roll of its wheels in the distance. I fell immediately to sleep.)
A year later I moved (or, rather, was moved by my parents) to my next home on Michigan Avenue on the border of Evanston and Chicago. My first memory comes from my time at this apartment building. It is a very strong memory, probably because it involves four of my five senses: sight, sound, touch and smell. I sat on the stairs between two floors of the apartment building just high enough where I could see through the transom window over the front door of the apartment below. Out of the transom window came light from within, the sounds of a party (laughter and conversation), the smells of cooking (chicken?) while my butt was keenly aware that it was on the hard wood of the steps. I felt intense sadness at being outside while the party went on inside. I felt excluded and uninvited. The laughter that came out the transom seemed directed at me. I remember standing, placing a hand on the wooden railing as I turned to walk up the stairs. End of memory.
Just as trains bring me peace I have no doubt that my dis-ease and discomfort with parties starts with this memory. I am also aware that my strong sense of justice (and injustice), particularly when it comes to inclusion and exclusion, begins on those steps. Is it possible for a two-year-old to form at that early stage of being human a life’s call to purpose and mission where no human being should feel what I felt on those hard steps?
More home addresses followed. Buffalo Grove. Back to Evanston. Arthur, Illinois. Topeka, Kansas. Flossmoor, Illinois. Greencastle, Indiana. Logan Square, Chicago. Indianapolis. Martinsville, Indiana. Irvington, Indiana. Kalamazoo. Back to Irvington. Noblesville, Indiana.
So many memories. Beginning at home on Maple Avenue in Evanston. Continuing at my current home on Maple Avenue in Noblesville. More, I am sure, to come…