School on Wheels

I am excited to volunteer again with a wonderful non-profit in Indianapolis, School on Wheels. Often, my hour spent tutoring is the highlight of my week. The children’s genuine eagerness, smiles as wide as the room they abide and the hope we tutors impart carries us through our own problems, which pale in comparison. Our efforts are a tiny step in a massive problem with the homeless but very worthwhile.

This year I will be with kindergartners, teaching Math with Art. Wednesday was my first day and I met Victor one of a few who I will spend time with in 2016-2017. We ate lunch together, talked a bit and soon delved into numbers, counting and making string art. They created something to be proud. Since there is a two week vacation I will visit again October 19. I wait in anticipation.

The difficult part is never truly knowing the impact we make later in the child’s life. I pray for each child as I remember their faces, personalities and courage. Below I share a past memory as I will remember others throughout the year.

**This story is from 2013-2014. I was volunteering in the evenings at a women’s homeless shelter where the kids came downstairs while the mother’s went to a Bible Study. The boy was a 6th grader with a shelled exterior, a force to reckon. I did not push with any attempt to coerce him into doing his homework. He obviously did not want to be there so we sat in silence, his back towards me. There is only an hour to be together and after a half-hour I was resigned to sit alone with a boy sitting next to me who must have been thinking about something because he turned and started talking about life on the school bus. Boys were bullying him, stealing his backpack, making fun that he cared about school and otherwise making his life miserable. I listened. I felt inadequately prepared to help. I could not ride the bus with him, confront the bullies. Even if I could what boy would want a woman defending him? I can only hope things have gotten better. That his family was able to move out of the city*.

Perhaps he will one day inspire another person to confront life. In America that is possible. 

*I have been watching an HBO series The Wire, on Netflix, which is very true to inner city life. I am sheltered from poverty of spirit and materials. What answers are available besides crime against themselves and others? Is fighting the only way out? What hope can exist for those squandered to live under the feet of their brothers?

This reminds me of a walk downtown, with my husband, which I think to go write. Be blessed. J


Corner Shadows

It didn’t seem
appropriate, flowers on her desk
wilting, another symptom
considering the puzzle pieces.
Petals fell, smiles from broken
vases and empty faces
warm ovens baking loaves of bread
toasty words spread.
Living in a VW Beetle
shivering in the night
heading to work
walking lonely through the crowd.
Not knowing what was
calmed the waves
watching those outside
throwing pebbles at their hunger.
The grumble from the stomach
not nearly as tragic
as the silence
raging in occupied halls.
The oblivious
symptom of the haves
and have not, no more immense
than the horizon.
Great things lie
ahead of every storm
keep watch
the ocean rises to meet the sun.

Written for a lady I met in Santa Fe who told me her story after two days of greeting and smiles. I still wait for her promised letter. As the days pass I grieve we may never hear or see each other again.

We each wrote a poem for the other and I will dig that out to share. A very personal poem as I was reluctant, but beautiful words all the same and I begin to feel the sharing appropriate after much contemplation. She too is a poet and my time spent at the bed and breakfast, as good as the tamales were, it was our words shared, enriching the space between.