My 80th Birthday

My 80th Birthday

    On my birthdays, I reflect on the zigzag  path I have taken.  Even as a child, I was not content to accept beliefs without questions. As a naive teenager, I vowed to not accept any belief unless it has some practical use.  Obviously, I threw out many religious and secular beliefs entirely. It took some age and experience to grasp the significance of metaphor and story to build my own belief system.

Then I took a turn. I became aware of the need to have my life show my beliefs rather than articulate an abstract belief in words.

When I began writing, I was told over and over again “Show, don’t tell.”  Describe in sensory terms, what is happening (like, laughing from my stomach ) instead of telling the reader how I was feeling (like, I was happy.)

So for this 8th decade birthday, I am going to describe  short vignettes of my experiences and you can interpret my core beliefs as you will.

At the end, I will include some of the key quotes that hold me up when I forget what I am about.

  1. Some of the Native Youth Group and I had just bought some chicken, bread and fruit juice for our day trek. As we were about to enter the van, Jacob said, “Look at that.”  We saw two homeless children picking day old food out of the Grocery Store’s trash bin.  Without words and without delay, we ran over to them and gave them all our food. We couldn’t stop laughing and talking about how the eyes of the kids lit up when they smelled the chicken.
  2. Stepping over dead people who had slept on the stairs of our apartment in Mumbai froze me inside out. Having starving children grab my leg and let themselves be dragged along the street, put me into a trance. My eyes were seared open and my heart constricted daily. I wanted to leave India until I saw a man place a sari tenderly over his children and wife sleeping on the cement under Byculla Bridge. From my window, my eyes turned wet and a strange tranquility settled into my bones.
  3. Living in Zambia, I visited Victoria Falls with friends. Our conversation mainly consisted of  “Look at that, look at that, look at that.” Inner laughter over took me as the mist dampened my clothes and I watched the water fall into the bottom and bounce back up. When I saw the otters playing in the bottom of the pool, I called out silently,” Brother Otter, I want to play with you.”
  4. Every week, a friend and I would sit at a table at the homeless park and hand out socks and supplies to whoever came by. One man sat under a nearby tree and stared at the ground. He would not look when I offered him socks or food. When someone gave me chocolates for Christmas, I went around and handed one wrapped piece to everyone. When I got to our silent man, I told him that I had chocolate.  With that, he raised his head up and took it. After that day, he started coming by to talk to us at the table and even making friends with other street people.  He even started volunteering to hand out food. I thought about this a long time and finally, I walked into Richard Rohr’s office before our contemplation time and told him that I had a metaphor. “When I arrive at the Pearly Gates and Saint Peter asks me what have I done in my life. I discarded all the things others have praised me for in working in villages in Developing Countries, building schools, a library, roads and wells and so on. I will tell Saint Peter that once I gave a piece of chocolate to a homeless man.”
  5. When I started criticizing the Native Youth in our youth group and finding too many issues for complaint, three of the youth suggested we drive to the Grand Canyon for the day. When we got there, they insisted that each of us sit under a tree in silence looking out across the canyon. We sat there for an indeterminate time. Finally, I sighed and my bones melted. I saw only endless wonder swirling around me.
  6. When a friend and I took supplies to the Asylum Seekers in El Paso, the children and youth crowded around us, laughing in glee, as we handed out backpacks and shoes and books in Spanish to everyone. I looked at the sea of hands and the voices saying “Gracias, Abuelita”, and an undefined longing settled in me.
  7. Visiting Machu Picchu, Peru, I climbed the stairs in a fog, barely able to see the top of the mountain. Something deep roiled inside my gut, and I felt like I was surrounded by ancient people who had climbed those steps in anticipation of something inexplicable.
  8.  When living with the Australian Aboriginals, my mentor told me stories of their ancient times while dancers mimed the story.  My mouth opened and no words came out.  Some dimension opened before me and took root.

Quotes that have directed me.

Antoine St Exupery “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

Nikos Kazantzakis “If you can, Spirit, rise up over the roaring waves and take in all the sea with an encircling glance. Hold the mind fast, don’t let it be shaken. Then plunge suddenly into the waves once more and continue the struggle.”

Bishop Steven Charleston “Listen, however it comes to you, listen wherever you are, and you will hear the sacred speak, a language born before time, a meaning meant for you.”

Rabindranath Tagore  “Suddenly some ancient mist had lifted from my sight and the ultimate significance of all things was laid bare. Immediately the world is bathed in a wonderful radiance with waves of beauty and joy swelling on every side and no person or thing in the world seemed to me trivial or unpleasing.”

Maya Angelo “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

e.e. cummings “i thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.”

Dorothy Saucedo: “My late brother Robert would say, “In morning mist, the Holy People walk to replenish Mother Earth, praying for us.”

Tecumseh “When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.

Lucy Greely “Sometimes the briefest moments capture us, force us to take them in, and demand that we live the rest of our lives in reference to them.

Dorothy Day “You love God only as much as you love the person you love the least..”

Richard Rohr “You have to go deep in one place. When you do, you fall into the underground stream that we all share.”

Rumi  “Something opens our wings. Something makes boredom and hurt disappear. Someone fills the cup in front of us. We taste only sacredness.”

Simone Weil “Those who are unhappy have no need for anything in this world but people capable of giving them their attention.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel:  “Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement…get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted…To be spiritual is to be amazed.”

These people who have died before me have shaped my life: Lyn Mathews, Rodney Wilson, George Winunguj, Charles Hahn, Robert Rafos, John Gadway, Dorothy Saucedo.

     Thank you all my kin for sharing my 80 years with me. My interior life is filled with infinite spaciousness and inner aliveness.

Kaye Hayes (Kaze) Gadway    September 13, 2020

Never Just One Way to Care

Vulnerable –There is Never Just One Way to Care

Our apartment complex has shut down our Wi-Fi so I am no longer able to spend a lot of time writing blogs and posting them or spending time talking with friends on FaceBook.  I will post a blog once a week on the effects of the virus on the poor and vulnerable.  For blogs of inspiration, I suggest you turn to Bishop Steven Charleston or Father Richard Rohr.  Their blogs are awesome during this time.

I am now using zip lock bags for homeless supplies and handing them out through my car window to minimize physical contact. I do this once a week and stay home the other six. I have some homemade hand sanitizers, combs, razors, socks, snacks and soap. In this way, I can assure my unsheltered friends that they have not been forgotten and are loved even in these times when everyone is isolating themselves in order to stop the spread of the virus.

Story One:

A waitress who works at Denny’s.  Gloria is very cheerful and generous. She told me at the gas station that her children (two of them) will be at home by themselves.  The older one is ten and will have to help the seven year old girl during the day.  “He is very responsible.  I hate to do this to him but if I don’t work, we don’t eat. I hate reading about everyone buying supplies and staying home doing hobbies. Not everyone can afford that, you know.” She was not bitter but very matter-of-fact that some people have more money than others and can afford to stay home.

Story Two:

I went to the park (which is closed off to traffic) and parked next to the fire station.  I waved the bags out the window and a lot of people came over.  I handed out 22 bags of supplies. Although this was supposed to minimize contact, so many wanted to shake my hand or give me a hug through the window. Jorje said: “God Bless you for coming. I was feeling like a leper. The streets are empty and people shy away if they see me.”

To the best of my ability, I explained the reasoning behind the seeming shunning of homeless.  “People are being asked to stay home and wash their hands with soap many times a day to keep the virus from spreading and stay 6 feet away from everyone else. Everyone is afraid.”

Jorje looked at his friends and back at me.  “How are we supposed to do that? There is no place to wash our hands and we live in camps for safety. How is that anything we can do?”

“They are keeping the West Side shelter open so you can stay there, even though it is crowded and has a bad reputation for abuse.” I said, even though my face must have told them that it was a bad situation for unsheltered people.

Alicia spoke up. “Are we all going to die?” Her eyes filled up.

I didn’t want to tell them “yes.” But I believe that most of them will die.

“I will be here next week,” I said weakly, not wanting to face them.

My integrity is based on Caring for the sick, feeding the hungry, sitting with the dying. I’m not sure how I can see them every week, knowing their chances of living are slim. Yet I will.

God have mercy.


Sacred Within

Sacred Within Us

Richard Rohr:  “Humans were fashioned to love people more than principles.”

Sacredness surrounds us. Dignity waits to be uncovered at the core of each person we meet.

I talk to Drew who talked freely about his problem in getting a job. “I’ve been out of work for almost two years. I get temporary work for a day or two. Then I go to a cheap motel and get cleaned up and eat a good meal. But if I don’t get a real job, I am going to look like some of the people on the ground here, dirty and hopeless. I don’t want to give up.”

Drew continues, “It’s not like I don’t have friends here. There is a real community here of people who support each other. I just want a job and get back to a life where I have choices. I used to think that I knew what choices were. Now I see many more alternatives, and they are all important.”

We talk some more and he thanks me. He ends by saying “If you were in charge of some of these programs that are suppose to help us, maybe we would get help.”

“I can’t get you a job. Only you can do that. What kind of help are you talking about?” I ask.

He grins, “Just listening to me and asking questions helps. You care what happens to me.”

I think about this as we talk to other people on the street. I didn’t do anything. I gave him nothing. But something has changed in me. I am interested in the people I meet on the street and I find great strength in their inherent dignity. As I review the years I worked with people and didn’t listen to them, I am not sure how I changed. Maybe it has been gradual. But I find that I smile more while walking down the street and saying “Hi.”



Forget Requirements

Too Many Requirements


     As a group of us watch men in black suits preaching to a group on the streets, one man scowls and turns his back on them.

“I just don’t fit into the requirements they demand,” he says. “They put all these demands on me to be perfect.”

“That’s not the god I believe in,” I respond.

He laughs, “Never heard that. What do you believe?”

“I had a teacher in Chicago named Paul Tillich and he used to tell us that nothing is demanded of you—no idea of God, and no goodness in yourself, not your being religious, not your being Christian, not your being wise, and not your being moral. But what is demanded is only your being open and willing to accept what is given to you…”

“I like that but open to what,” he says.

A woman speaks up, “I think it is open to what is important.”

“I can do that,” he says.

As I drive away I wonder about those who have unbending requirements about being open to the sacred. When I was first started on my spirit journey I too had inflexible standards. As more and more obstacles popped up I began to experience the holy in everyday encounters and the walls of judgment came down. I am hoping that the seeds of “no requirements to encounter the holy” have taken root.


Oil Blessing

Mark with Oil.


As much as I have tried to update my metaphors of deep meaning, I find I still respond to some traditional rites as so life giving.


Several years ago on one of  Native youth mission trips to California, we had asked our favorite Priest (Mother Kelli Grace Kurtz)  to give us a blessing when we were grieving over the loss of a relative. She used sanctified oil to mark the cross on our foreheads. We had just completed a ceremony for letting go of those who now walk in the Spirit World. The blessing let us “let go” of being alone and move back into the ordinary. Later, one of the grieving youth says to the priest “I never understood the 23rd Psalm before and the words ‘Thou anointest my head with oil.’ I get it now. I get being blessed.”


I’m not sure why this memory has popped up in Lent but I met so many homeless people lately who are grieving and want to let go–they have lost their children to social services, they have done stupid things, they feel trapped, and so on.  They want to be blessed and receive some sort of wholeness.


So do I.


Ritual is crucial. It not only opens us up to the awesome and profound, it connects us to the historic community from which we get our life sustaining poetry.

For all those who have anointed my head with oil or said bless you or recognized the sacred somehow, I hold you up in my prayers in thanksgiving.


I want Food!

Do You Have Food

Although most homeless people have left the street where they have been recently evicted, I drove by one man sleeping on the side walk. He is clutching one thin blanket. It was below freezing last night.

I wave to him as I drive past and he surges to his feet and cries “I want food.” I stop to hand him the food I carry in my car.

He walks to the middle of the street and stops.

I walk over to him, give him my name, shake hands and give him some food. He mumbles something that I can’t understand and just stands there.

“Can you use a sleeping bag?” I ask.

He nods.

“Would you like the orange or the blue one?”

He smiles and points to the orange one. He has not left the middle of the street. I hand him the orange bedroll and also some socks. He clutches them smiling.

He says something else which I do not understand. He remains standing in the street. I motion back to the sidewalk. He says clearly “thank you.”

He walks back to his place on the sidewalk. I can hear him say “thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.”

I don’t know if he has some mental illness or if he is drugged or if he is simply confused by being alone on a street that used to have fifty people. I only know that he showed up in my life and blessed me.


Holding On

Holding on

“I had a weird dream last night,” Joey on the street told me. “It was raining real hard and the water spilled onto the sidewalks and all of us sleeping there were swept away.  I tried to hold on to something but there was nothing there.”

“So, what happened?” demands another man. “Did you wake up?”

“No,” he says. “It was really weird. A hand reached out and grabbed the other people. But I was out of reach. I thought I was going to die. But I managed to grab the little finger with both hands. I held on and then woke up.”

Nobody says anything. One man clears his throat but doesn’t talk. Everyone stares at the dreaming man.

One of the women finally talks. “You saw an angel.”

No one comments. They pat the man on the shoulder and walk away.

Finally he says, “I don’t know what it was but I was sure glad for that finger. That seemed like my last chance.”


Moral Issue for Lent.

Moral Issues for Lent.

Focusing on everything wears me out.  So I gather the latest number on the issues I choose to focus:  Vulnerable children and women.

The numbers keep changing. The moral issue remains.

Statistics are not reliable.There are several systems who try to count or guess the number of homeless, children, vulnerable women, etc.  Many of the numbers come from police reports, shelters, soup kitchens and various agencies. These numbers are offered as an estimate from national departments.

Homeless Children

The number of homeless children in the United States is at its highest in more than a decade, according to a recent study by the National Center for Homeless Education.

More than 1.5 million public school students nationwide were homeless at some point during the 2017-2018 school year, according to the report published last month. That figure was the highest recorded in more than 12 years.

Beaten Women

The World Health Organisation reporting that a billion women will be raped or beaten in their lifetime.

Native Women

Eighty-four percent of Native women experience violence in their lifetime, according to the National Institute of Justice. A  study found that women in some tribal communities are 10 times more likely to be murdered than the national average.

Trafficking and Slavery

Trafficking is not just an issue that happens to people in other countries. The United States is a source and transit country, and is also considered one of the top destination points for victims of child trafficking and exploitation. Cases of human trafficking have been reported in all 50 U.S. States; anyone can be trafficked regardless of race, class, education, gender, age, or citizenship when forcefully coerced or enticed by false promises. UNICEF

45.8 million children in slavery, according to global estimates. Children who live or work on the streets are especially vulnerable to abuse in many forms, including drug abuse, sexual exploitation, child labour, child trafficking and violence. As many as 2.8 million children run away each year in the US. Within 48 hours of hitting the streets, one-third of these children are lured or recruited into the underground world of prostitution and pornography. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children


Refuge Children

How many refugee children are in US internment camps without parents and with unsanitary conditions?  Thousands. No one knows for sure as present government hides data. Maybe 5,000 to 40,000.

Child Malnutrition

Source:  UNICEF/WHO/World Bank Joint Child Malnutrition Estimates, March 2019 edition.

Note: The total number of wasted children under 5 is 49.48 million.


New Mexico


As of January 2019, New Mexico had an estimated 3,241 experiencing homelessness on any given day, as reported by Continuums of Care to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Of that Total, 246 were family households, 257 were Veterans, 216 were unaccompanied young adults (aged 18-24), and 1,455 were individuals experiencing chronic homelessness.

Public school data reported to the U.S. Department of Education during the 2016-2017 school year shows that an estimated 10,071 public school students experienced homelessness over the course of the year.


There may be between 18,000 and 22,000 children and youth experiencing homelessness last year in New Mexico. At least 8,000 of these children were under the age of six. Many children in human trafficking are runaways. This is an easy group to target. Children, both boys and girls, can be sold for up to $200 an hour. Boys from six to twelve and girls from eleven to seventeen are the most common age target. This is an organized business. Children are sold several times a day which makes this a profitable business, like any other organized crime.

It enrages me to see children on the street, struggling to be invisible. I weep when I see children eat out of trash bins. I rejoice when a family with children get housing. I am torn up inside when I see the disdain and neglect of this issue of homeless children.

This week I saw a small child struggling with a large backpack walking alone through a back alley. It totally undoes my balance, my peace, and my courage.

There are many people and organizations working on these moral issues. Not enough.


Would Anyone Notice?

Would Anyone Notice?

Jorje came up to our table to receive some socks. He sits down at the table and talks about the nice weather.

Casually, I ask if he is worried about the Coronovirus coming to New Mexico.  He looks at me straight in the eye.

“Yeah, we are all worried about it. Everyone coughs and has a hard time breathing. But do you know what we are really worried about, for those of us who live in the park or nearby streets?”

He is rigid, his eyes never wavering.

“No, what?” I ask softly.

“That we will have an epidemic in the park and no one will notice.”

He softens a little.  “Maybe, people like you. You talk to us and don’t ask anything from us. But mainly, no one would even notice if we all died off.”

He smiled sadly and walked away.


I don’t know why that hit me so hard. It is so true.

God have mercy.


Why a Face

Why a Face

We were talking in general on the street when Lori asks “Just what is the face of adversity? My mother used to say ‘that’s just the face of adversity’ and I never knew what that meant.”

They look at me like I’m supposed to know. I shrug.

Cari says, “My grandmother used to say that but she would say ‘spit in the face of adversity.’ She was feisty.”

Someone else speaks up, “I think it means you don’t hide from how bad it is like when my man knocked my teeth out when he was drunk. What’s real just stares you in the face and you can’t get away from it. I know that’s when I growed up.”

Another says, “When I lived in an apartment, I could put off bad news for the longest time, especially about the bills. Now that I am on the street, I can’t avoid bad news cause I would starve to death if I did.”

We went our separate ways but I kept thinking about when I would put off a decision because I didn’t want to face it. Perhaps this conversation is pushing me toward the courage to face whatever makes me uncomfortable.


Finding the wonder daily