Monastery Stay by Kaze

Expecting Sabbatical Kaze Gadway
Monday I stay at the Pecos Benedictine Monastery for ten days. I will slow down, let go, and dwell deep.

As Richard Rohr says “Prayer is sitting in the silence until it silences us, choosing gratitude until we are grateful, and praising God until we ourselves are an act of praise.”
I keep remembering when the youth group and I were struggling on how to say that life is good without it meaning that we like bad things that happen to us or living in an illusion that nothing is terrible.
Danny summed it up. “When I was in jail for smoking weed and drinking, I realized that I was doing both too much. I felt like I was in a box going in circles, condemned to do the same things over and over. Then it came to me. ‘There’s a way out.’ That is what life as goodness means to me. No matter how bad it gets, there is a way beyond it. I’m not trapped.”
That’s why I make my retreat every August. I want to examine the ways I am not trapped.

 

Ulcers by Kaze

Ulcers by Kaze Gadway

     I’m sitting with some street people when I notice that one is holding his stomach. “What’s wrong?” I ask

     “Who are you? I don’t know you,” he says.

     I back off. “Sorry, it was a bad question.”

     I had forgotten that the only reason people on the streets talk to me is that we establish a relationship of trust first.

     He responds anyway. “My ulcers have come back. I had them in the army.

     I give him the number of the homeless vets desk and tell him that they will help him.

     “No way, I’ve tried them before. They tell me I have to deal with my anger. I’m not going back and tell them all the s*** I have to go through being on the streets.”

     “How have you dealt with your anger before that worked?” I ask.

     “A long time ago,” he says. “I used to let stupid stuff roll over me but now I’m just fed up. A police woman comes by here all the time and looks me up and down like I am dirt. I get a temporary job and the man throws me $5.00 for working all day. I keep my mouth shut and the anger goes to my stomach. I don’t know if I have ever dealt with my anger.”

     We sit in silence for a few minutes. Homeless have no protection from abuse or disdain.

     “Personally, I vent when I am angry. When I was in Jr. High my girlfriends and I decided that we would learn how to swear so we could be grown-up. We went to an isolated place and said all the swear words we knew. We ran out of words after ‘damn and hell. ‘We were afraid to say anything else we had heard. So now I vent by pounding a pillow.”

     The ulcer man started laughing. Soon I joined in. We did nothing but laugh.

     “I needed that,” he says.  “I wish laughter would go to my stomach.”

     “Maybe it can,” I say.

     Later I thought about how laughter heals. Maybe I should learn how to tell jokes.

No Jobs by Kaze

Finding work  by Kaze

                    A young woman tells me she is graduating with a double major this semester.

           “Do you have a job lined up?” I ask.

      “No,” she says. “I don’t think I will find work in my field so I will continue to work making coffee and hope that I can get hired someday. I can barely make my monthly rent and basic expenses but at least I have some kind of a job.”

     Then I talk to those who live on the street.  So many take one day jobs that are offered to the homeless or they go from house to house offering to clean up the yard. “All I want is a chance to get back on the work force,” is a common refrain. The sentence that follows is “I don’t think it will ever happen.”

     Some days I feel despair at the multiple layers of problems with those who live on the streets. Add to this, those who are poor and just hanging on with less than minimum wages. Add to this, the Senior Citizens who worry about how to live on Social Security and are really not capable to re-enter the job market even if there were jobs.

           It is scary to live in our society now. I need to think hard about what gives dignity to                          people beside jobs, since that seems no longer seems an option.

 

     

Named by Kaze

Remembering Names

     “Hi Willy,” I call out to a friend on the street.  His face lights up and we talk about the heat, the violence, the possibility of getting an apartment, safe places to sleep and where to line up for food.  Those are the usual topics of conversations. Sometimes we talk about jobs. He shows me the necklace he has made.

     “I found these pieces on the street and I have put them together. Maybe someone will buy it,” he says.

     I praise his work and wonder where he found the turquoise and beads to make it. I don’t ask. He beams at my admiration for his creativity. He talks about how long he has been sober and how he is a better man for it.

     In other words, a normal street conversation with people who just want to be a part of community, a settlement, a group, anything in which he or she can belong.

      Every conversation starts with “My name is Kaze. What’s yours?” When I see the person again and can remember the name, then we are friends.

    A name marks us as important and unique. Being called by name means you are noticed, no longer ignored as a “nothing.”

     I don’t think there is anything more important to our calling as decent human beings than to notice and acknowledge another. When we call someone on the street by name, it denotes respect.

     I love it when someone says “Oh, it’s you. Hi Kaze.” We all want to be acknowledged with respect.

 

Weird Hope by Kaze

Weird Hope   by Kaze

     I hate to see the youth in orange and chains. Joey had been the lookout in a robbery of a youth gang from which they stole $10 and some beer. His partner, Wendell, had waved a revolver around that he had stolen from his father. That meant being charged with a felony.

     Lookout Joey expected probation. To his surprise he went to jail. For him it was a wake up call.  Not all jail sentences are.  Most of the time, the youth complain about how unfair the system is and how it was bad luck for them.  The connection between the criminal act and jail time is tenuous in their minds.  

     Often the arrest and sentencing does not seem all that rational to me.  One who trashed a school with $20,000 damage to the computer at three different times received no jail time and only standard probation.  Another who fought back his stepfathers abuse with his fists gets four months in Juvenile detention and intense probation.  Go figure. The youth go to court expecting the best and the worst. Their stomachs clench in complicated knots until they know their sentence.

     When the mother called me to announce this youth was arrested, I tried to sort through the complicated stories:  “He wasn’t really involved. His friend asked him to watch his back. Joey didn’t know Wendell had a gun.  Only when I arrived at the court house did I hear that he had already admitted to being the lookout which meant he was fully accountable for the crime.

     The Sunday before his incarceration, he called me for a ride to church.  I told him my car was full and couldn’t give him a ride.  To my surprise, he walked to the Chruch and showed up on time. He told me later that he felt good coming to Church and being welcomed by the youth group.

      Then he became a lookout.

      When the judge told him he had to go to jail, he went into shock. His mother, who had also expected probation, was outside the courtroom with his small siblings. When they saw him in handcuffs, they all began to cry and tell him goodbye.  No one understood why he was going to jail.

      I worried when I went to see him in jail. To my surprise, he smiles when he sees me. We talk about his crushed expectations of just being on probation and on consequences.  I can’t say that he totally understands that his choices do shape his path but he has a glimmer of how his actions  influence his life.   

      He asks me to tell his mother and step dad that he loves them and all his brothers and cousins who live at his mother’s house.  We talk about his future and what would be the next step. He didn’t see this jail time as a block to his future.  He was not bitter.  He told me he was the youngest one in the pod and no one talks to him.  That didn’t turn him hostile. “I don’t know why but I still have hope that I can change and do something different.

   I am filled with hope  by seeing his hope.

Does Someone Care? Kaze

Harold

     Harold walks up to our bench sideways. He keeps his head down, not looking at us.

     “We have socks, water and gummy bears,” I say.

     He reaches for them slowly, mumbling “Thanks.” He goes away.

     Another man shows up and talks to us, eating the gummy bears.

     Harold slowly walks up to us again. He stands there.

     “My name is Kaze and this is my friend Martha,” I say. We wait.

     “I’m Harold,” he says. “Will you pray for me?”

     “Yes,” we both say immediately.

     He walks away.

          I don’t know what he wanted us to pray for. He may not have known.  I think that he wanted to know that someone cared enough to want his well-being.

         So many people, not just the homeless, want to be assured that someone cares about their well-being.    

     

Katy Yazee writes on prayer

Prayer by Katy

These questions are from the Spirit Journey Youth group several years ago. I still wonder about them.

“Why do you pray? How do you understand your relationship with God when/if your prayers are answered, or if they aren’t answered? Can you talk about a time in your life when you prayed and the outcome of your prayer changed your life or the way you think about prayer?

The next is my reflection.

 Katy’s Prayer

As a Native, we give thanks every day to the Creator. I also used to pray for things to change or for stuff. I changed when friends helped me and my kids to escape from an abusive relationship. I learned about prayer in the Episcopal Spirit Journey Youth group. We wrote prayers for the homeless, for our families, for those in trouble, for courage for ourselves, for thanksgiving, for help to change from bad ways, for being the hands and feet of God and for praise to a glorious God. These prayer exercises made me think about how I am a part of something bigger than my small concerns. For a long time I really didn’t believe there is a real God. Then something bad happened to one of my kids and I found myself praying for help. My friends helped me. When the youth group talked about this later someone said that he prayed either to get his head cleared or to just offer it up to God. So I no longer worry about just how I believe. I pray all the time now, mainly to offer it up to God. It helps me to see things more as good. I feel I belong to a community of God people who are all confused about prayer but they still pray.