All For One

This post and its comments were originally published on Transformation City Church’s blog.


That afternoon, the intersection of North and Fond Du Lac Avenues was busy being the busiest intersection in Milwaukee. Everyone was Pooh with their head in the bee hive, selfish selfish selfish and stupid stupid stupid.

In the crosswalk, there was a man wearing a Packers jersey, a floral scarf on his head and carrying a single plastic white hanger. Each footstep seemed a philosophical statement: No one cares, therefore I do not care. No one honked, no one looked, no one pointed. To us he was a human construction barrel, to be avoided.

As I turned, there was a woman standing by the bus stop, not waiting for the bus. The combination of her clothes – or what was left of them – suggested a costume. I wanted to give her a ride, but I realized that might be misinterpreted by her, and the police.

Further down the street, a young couple waited to cross. She held the child like a bag of groceries and he stood five feet away like he didn’t know them. The smoke from his cigarette slipped into my cracked window.

I looked into the rear view mirror and a pair of narrowed eyes looked back. I rubbed the gunk from the corners. I looked away. I looked ahead.

When I arrived at the community house, it was time for Bible Club. A boy gripped my arm like it was a branch hanging over a rushing river. “What do you think God looks like?” Asked Kevin. “He’s a yellow spirit,” Shouted one kid. “I bet He’s got big sandals,” Shouted a second. The third was so quiet Kevin had to repeat it for us: “Maybe He looks like all of us put together.”

Domestic Dispute

This post and its comments were originally published on Transformation City Church’s blog.


Some weeks we have Bible Club. Some weeks we have Bible Fight Club. This week was definitely BFC, hot and crispy.

In our meeting beforehand Kevin outlined the lesson plan, which was about Joseph. (Not the one who got to be Jesus’ father, but the one who got a multi-colored coat from his father.) Kevin was concerned that the story was too long and its moral too vague for the children.

He needn’t have been concerned, because he never got to tell Joseph’s story. Instead, the children acted it out. They boasted to, argued with, and betrayed one another. Kevin preached about forgiveness and forgave them all. And somehow it was all right. We all walked away from it like the survivors of a plane crash, giddy, grateful.

That night, above the groaning of my air conditioner and the heartbeat of my stereo, I heard shouting. A limited vocabulary of expletives conveying a broad diversity of hatred. I was sure it was right outside my window, in the backyard, some spontaneous angry cookout, assault with a spatula. But when I opened the blinds no one was there. Walking out of my room I found Kevin, who was darting between watching the basketball game on TV and watching out the front windows.

“What’s going on out there?” I barked, as if the question had the power to restore sanity.

On the balcony, our opera box, we peered at the drama below. Shadows of men and women grappled and shoved. One streetlight respected their privacy and refrained from illuminating.

“I’m going to call the alderman and get him to fix that streetlight,” Kevin scolded, “and I did call the police, but they take forever to get here.”

A siren responded to his accusation. 12 cop cars raced in and cops bounced out of them. They surrounded the scene, dedicated extras awaiting a director’s cue. Then something gave – they engaged – grabbing and separating, commanding and escorting.

Kevin shook his head and sighed, “None of this would happen if people just watched the game.”

Some nights later, as I was driving down our alley that the city calls a street, two cats rolled in front of my car, clawing at one another. Swearing, I slammed on the brake.

They leaped apart and glared at me, eyes glowing green. They were going to kill each other. I was getting in the way.