Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Emmaus: Day Twenty Three

I was out on outreach until 3 AM. Doug and I talked with a few of our guys. It rained most of the evening and yet we stayed dry! Doug is great at his job. He scans his environment. He connects, he listens, and he is sensitive to what is said and more importantly, what is not said.

I got up at 8:30 and packed. I talked with Cathi for a bit, pretty soon we will be sitting next to each other!

I went down to the Ministry Center. It was packed. The guys fried chicken, made rice, beans, salad. They are making baked pork chops for this evening. These folks are some serious cooks.

It is a good day. However, I am quickly disengaging. My mind is on getting on the train, on going home, on being with Cathi, with my daughter and my pets.

I know I have a lot more to say about what I learned here. However, that will unfold over the course of the summer. I have film to hopefully develop. I have material to read and experiences to process. But not now. Now it is time to begin to say good bye to Emmaus Ministries, to the Kaio Community and Chicago. Now it is time to say hello to home.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Emmaus: Day Twenty Two

This is my last full day in Chicago and at Emmaus. I attend Mass, I will miss Mary of the Lake.

I talk with Cathi. We are both excited about my heading home. I write.

Then I head for the Ministry Center. The place is crowded. It is a good day but a busy day. There is a greater need for structure and boundaries than usual. Our guys appear tired, some are irritable. Still the leaders are models of what can be.

After the Ministry Center we go to the Emmaus staff meeting. They are planning the Endurance Ride. This is a major fund-raiser. They give me a card and sing a song to me. What a song. Everyone in the room sings at the top of their lungs. However, they each sing a different song.! I love it.

Next Chris and I deliver supplies to Thomas Canterbury Church. It is a predominately Vietnamese congregation.

When we get home Chris cooks dinner. We, the Kaio Community eat together. I then lead us in discussion. We talk about what we value in each others different faith traditions. Finally we pray. This is my last Kaio prayer. Afterwards Chris and Nicole make Toll House cookies. I get ready for my final outreach. I will be going out with Doug. I am excited and a little sad. However, the bigger concern is that it is cold outside and raining. It will make for a memorable night.

Tomorrow I finish up here. I say my good byes. I go home to Cathi, Kerri, Reese, Anna, Tess and Leo. Fort Wayne, here I come!

The Kaio Community, My Temporary Home

So what was it like living in an intentional community? I loved it. Kaio refers to the Greek word for being on fire. When the two disciples walked the road of Emmaus with the stranger who turned out to be Jesus their hearts were on fire. Well, Kiao is transformative.

I lived in this three bedroom apartment on the third floor. It had a large dinning room/living room. This room had a unique look to it. There was a Celtic cross painted on the wall and there was a Christmas tree! The kitchen was bright red.

However, it was the community members that made this such a powerful experience. I lived with Nicole, Brandon and Chris. Each was very different from the other two and all were committed to living faith-filled lives and of being servants to others.

Nicole was our most unique member. She was a Protestant from California. Nicole majored in social work. She felt called to serve at Emmaus. She can best be described as joyful and brave. At this time she is applying to live and work at an L’Arche Community. This is an intentional community that unites people with members with special needs and they support one another. The communities were founded by Jean Vainer. They were made famous by the writings of Henri Nouwen. It was Nicole who introduced me to the Pan African church that I loved so much. I also went to her church with her. This was the Uptown Baptist Church. Nicole valued her Protestant roots and her personal walk with Jesus.

Carl sitting Next to Nicole and Brandon on the "L"

Brandon came from Iowa, one of my all-time favorite states. He was our cradle Catholic. His faith was established, he lived it without having to proclaim it. His prayers were dynamic. Brandon was a quiet young man who spent a lot of time by himself. It would be a mistake to confuse this with timidity. He in fact was a clear leader. My first night in community it was Brandon who sat me down and explained my chores and responsibilities. It was Brandon who handled the money for groceries. Brandon was a passionate man. He had a degree in art. He was an active member of Holy Name Cathedral. He was a key problem-solver at the community center. He also had the most subtle sense of humor in the community.


Chris was my roommate. He came from North Carolina. His degree was in religious studies. He was a convert to Catholicism and in fact was a Byzantine Ruthenian Catholic. He seemed to know more about Catholicism than anyone I had ever met. It is Chris who brought me to the University of Chicago to hear theology lectures. It was Chris who went with me to adoration. Chris will be going to Italy this summer to stay in a Benedictine monastery. I don’t know where his faith journey will take him. I do know that who ever gets him will be blessed. Chris was also one of my outreach partners. I hope Chris and I stay in contact for decades to come.


We had some structure at Kaio. We prayed together Sunday through Thursday nights. On Sunday nights we followed a structured modified Catholic service complete with candles and readings. On Tuesday night we had Kaio night. This included a shared meal, a discussion and prayers. At other times we spontaneously came together for concerns, to play or to just be with one another. We also spent time away from one another. Our privacy was respected.

This was my brief introduction into intentional living in a faith community. I was blessed with great people who were part of a ministry that complimented my Franciscan sensibilities. I doubt I will ever forget brothers Brandon and Chris and sister Nicole. They have found a special place in my heart.

What Does It Take?

So, what does it take to become a hustler, a male prostitute? It takes a lot. You can’t just be defeated. It is not enough to be angry, anger can result in all different responses, some good. It is not enough that you have been abused, abandoned or rejected. It takes a whole constellation of pain.

When you have been abused from an early age, when you have been abandoned repeatedly, by parents leaving, going to jail or dying, when life is so bad you run away at age 14 or 15, then you have the makings of a hustler.

When you haven’t had the time or opportunities to develop school or work skills you discover that to eat or find a place to get out of the cold you’ll do things you never would have considered. After a few arrests your police record guarantees you wont’ be hired by most people. Once you get addicted to the drugs you have been using to dampen the shame you feel you begin to hustle just to take care of your habit.

You become America’s untouchables. You are not welcome in homeless shelters. The homeless feel superior to you. You are the victim of violent “johns”. You walk the same streets that John Wayne Gacy and Jeffrey Dahmer frequented as they trolled for young boys. You contract so many diseases, your health deteriorates, and your body fails you.

What does it take to reclaim a life like this? It takes all you have to give. This is a holistic endeavor and no one agency or person is going to transform these boys. But then, we are not the transformer anyway, we simply provide a road map.

So it takes an understanding of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Food, water, shelter and safety come before all else. Once that is offered belonging and social needs and self-esteem needs can slowly be addressed. It takes relationship, relationship, relationship. This is Carl Rogers 101. No judging, unconditional positive regard. They know how to be judged, they have been judged by others and by themselves.

It takes a whole host of activities and programs. This includes health services, GED, work programs, housing programs.

However, it is not likely that any of this will have any real impact without some internal change. If the spiritual needs of these boys and men are not addressed then hope will not grow. That doesn’t mean preaching. It doesn’t mean pouring Jesus down their throats. It means walking the walk, it means modeling love and forgiveness, it means modeling we are all broken and we are all loved.

It took a long, long time to make such a broken life. However, behind all of this pain, behind the drugs, behind the shame is still a child of God and the face of Jesus. It will take a long, long time to help these boys and men walk in the light. However, what else are we here for but to walk beside our brothers and sisters.

The People I Met

I have had a very colorful and blessed time in Chicago. I kept walking up to closed doors only to have them opened for me. The result is I have had a number of personal tours. I also met folks who just wanted to talk and added to the canvas of Chicago.

Some of the people I will remember:

The lady who let me in early to the Lakeview Pantry. She simply wanted to tell me about all the wonderful work her agency is doing to feed the poor. She has every reason to be proud.

The gentleman at the Center on Halsted who told me what to see and what not to miss. He was helpful, I just wish he would not have kept handing me information on the elderly! I also was grateful to run into the Director of Recreational Services. He was also a guy proud of all the Center’s many programs.

The lady at the American Indian Center who gave me a tour of the facility even though it was clear she was recovering from a bad cold. She told me about the Powwows, educational programs, cultural activities, health services and counseling services. She should me the artifacts and told me about their art galleries. Thank you!

Randy at Jesus People USA, at the Friendly Towers. He gave me a tour of the towers, the chapel, and the coffee shop. He also got me entry into their two shelters. I am looking out the window as I type this and I see the towers. Thank you JPUSA for doing so much to help the needy in your part of the world.

Anna M Chychula, the administrator of the Ukrainian National Museum. She gave me a personal tour of the entire museum. She gave me advice of what else to see in Ukrainian Village and where to eat. She was proud of her heritage and her city. She is a wonderful ambassador of the museum.

At the Norwegian memorial church I met Olav T. Lenke, the vice president of the Lagting. He is sort of like the Speaker of the House of Norway. I felt honored to meet him. I also sat with wonderful women at the reception who told me about the Norwegian-American community in Chicago and in Florida. It made for a very special Syttende Mai or Norwegian Constitution Day.

The gentleman at the rectory of the Holy Trinity Orthodox Church. He saw me walking away from the only Louis Sullivan church left in the world. He came out and asked if I would to go inside and see it! He was a great tour guide, full of wonderful and unique information. Thank you!

Joe the youth minister at St. Therese Chinese Catholic Mission Church. He gave me a great tour of the church even though it was closed. I never would have understood the significance of what I was looking at without him. He was warm, friendly, had a sense of humor and pride in his heritage.

Finally, I want to acknowledge the man who approached me at the Chinatown “L” stop. He saw my St. Therese program and tried to comment on it. I could not understand him. He then showed me photos of him with Mayor Daley, President Obama’s chief of staff and a thank you letter from President Obama. It appears he had been active on a committee to get the 2016 Olympic to Chicago.

I could not understand him. He then pulled out a notebook from his bag. One page explained that he had a stroke, could not talk but that he could do many, many things. He pantomimed how he could swim, do yoga, Tai Chi, karate, dance, including tango, cha cha and hula. Finally he pointed to my belly and laughed. He then pulled out a picture of the Buddha! He asked, as best he could, if I was “Italiano”. I said “no”. He then pointed to my stomach and said, “Bambino”. He then told me, “Eat banana and water, no hot dogs and TV.”. Everyone was watching this unusual and spontaneous show on the “L” platform. Then the train came and it was over. I know he was once an editor, I know he was a mover and a shaker. I know he is still a very active man. I also know I am gonna have a few less hot dogs!

These and so many other people filled my life here in Chicago. This is a city of people, of neighborhoods. This was my home for 36 years and was home again for three weeks. In case I haven’t mentioned it, I love Chicago and the people that make it my kind of town.

Emmaus: Day Twenty One

I went to Mass at Mary of the Lake. The music was moving and consistent with Memorial Day. Afterwards they had adoration.

The walk home was chilly. It was a grey, rainy day. Not the kind of day you expect for a holiday that heralds the beginning of the summer season!

I went down to the Ministry Center early. We worked on set up. The guys were grilling, there was a lot to do. We moved furniture, put table clothes on the tables, and got out all the dishes. I peeled potatoes. It was just a big holiday time. I had to leave early because of the killer headache but after a nap I was back to normal.

The food was great. We had hamburgers, brats, Italian sausage, spaghetti, potato salad, chips and dips, cookies, brownies. We watched a movie. We talked. No group, no goals and no laundry today. It was just a time of great fellowship.

Afterwards I went up stairs and took another nap. I then went to the Dollop and read a couple of chapters. When I got back it was 8:00 P.M. and I was hungry. So I made ravioli and salad and all of us at Kiao ate together. They are a great bunch of folks.

At 10:00P.M. Chris and I went out for adoration. That was my day. It was a day of great fellowship, occasional aggravation with a headache all sandwiched between adoration. Not too shabby! Only one full day left at Emmaus and in Chicago. I am both sad and excited.

Dionne Warwick -The Battle Hymn of the Republic

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Things I Did:

In the last three weeks:

I went to three lectures:
One on theology at the University of Chicago
One on Mary at Holy Name Cathedral
One on pastoral counseling at Emmaus

I read:
The Perfect Joy of Saint Francis
The Emmaus Training Manual
A Heart for the Community

I visited:
Churches, lots and lots of churches

Service organizations:
The American Indiana Center
The agencies of Jesus People USA
The Center on Halsted
The Lakeview Pantry
Ezra Café

And I saw the sites:
The lake and harbors
Lincoln Park Zoo
Buckingham Fountain
Harold Washington Library
The Cultural Center
The Art Institute of Chicago
Navy Pier
The Ukrainian National Museum

I had a number of private tours

And I prayed, all over the place.

All of this while working and training. It was a busy, exhausting three weeks and I loved it.

Chicago, Emmaus and Food

I notice that I write a lot about food. However, food is important. We break bread with friends, we have special foods for special occasions. During our worst of times it is food we most worry about. It is the greatest of gifts in the form of the Eucharist.

Well, that is all true here. It marks the neighborhoods and peoples I have spent time with. It unites us, the guys and the volunteers and staff at the Ministry ‘Center. It is a bridge during out reach, it unifies at the Kiao Community.

During out reach I have seen us connect by buying sandwiches for the folks who are seriously hungry. They do not ask for snacks. They ask for the biggest sandwich with the most meat and cheese they can get on it. They want it to sustain them as long as possible. I haven’t seen an out reach worker act superior by giving the guys food. Instead I have seen the workers feel privileged that they were around at a time when they could help their brothers.

The Ministry Center has many functions. However, my favorite is to unite us all by sharing a family-style meal together. I have cooked for all of us three times. I made a garlic-chicken and cheese meal, a thanksgiving meal with turkey and Korean beef. All of us workers and volunteers take our turns cooking. However, I am most impressed with the guys cooking. They are creative and disciplined. They get here early. They prepare the food, they set the table and they are here for the clean up. They are great cooks.

We sit around this long table and we share food and stories and jokes. We share hopes and fears. This is family.

At Kiao we each take turns making the meals. Tuesday is Kiao night. That includes the meal, prayers and discussion. It is a great night. Nicole made a Mexican meal, I made pastas and Brandon made wonderful wraps. Tomorrow we will all find out what Chris has planned for us.

Food triggers our memories. I had a thin slice of Chicago pizza and I felt like I was back in 1968.

I had a Chicago hot dog and knew I was experiencing hot dogs as they were meant to be.

Food is a way to experience other cultures and boy did I do that. While here I had:

Mongolian beef, I love it. I first had it, in Uptown, in the 1970s!

Ethiopian food, by far my favorite. I love the presentation of the food, I loved the flavor and I loved the people serving the food. I want more!

I had West African food. I ate Ogbono (a kind of chili mix with spicy greens and goat), and Fufu (a porridge made from cassava, a starch. It was rolled into a ball, you then mix it with your other foods for flavor. It takes the place of potatoes, pasta or rice). The food was very hot and very good

I had Lebanese lamb curry and I licked my fingers

I had a variety of Ukrainian foods starting with borscht and including blintz and sausages

I had Norwegian open face sandwiches, cakes and cheeses and I felt like I was a child at home

There so many other foods I could have had. The city is full of wonderful restaurants, cafes and out door vendors.

Occasionally food and space are both special. That was certainly true when I was eating Norwegian food at the only Norwegian speaking church in the city.One exception, in which the food was not that special but the setting made all of the difference in the world was the Rock and Roll McDonald's. We used it during outreach. Our guys used it. It was a great break with a great and unique look. Two stories of modern furniture and settings surrounded by interesting scenery outside.

Finally, I shared a meal with my niece and her family. It was great to be around the familiar to be with family. Erica is a great cook. The food was simple, shrimp and salad but it was good.

So, yeah, I talk a lot about food. However, it sustains us, it unites us and it makes us smile. So please, pass the bowl, I want seconds!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Emmaus/Chicago: Day Twenty

I started the morning going to Mass at Mary of the Lake. Afterwards Nicole and I went to services at her church, Uptown Baptist. I wanted to make sure I went there. That was the church Jim Larson was music minister of. Jim is a friend I worked with in the 70's two doors from Emmaus. Jim and his wife Judy are now working with girls who were sold into prostitution in Thailand. He is the one that first told me about Emmaus. So, it was good to spend time with Nicole. I also felt connected to my old friend Jim.

I spent the evening with my niece and her family. It was nice, dinner, family, great conversation. I walked there. That is a walk from Uptown, to the edge of Boystown, turn on Grace and walk to North Central. It is about an hours walk. What I realized while walking is that I have seen a lot of Chicago neighborhoods in these past three weeks.

See Chicago - A City of Neighborhoods

I have seen and walked through:
New Chinatown
Buena Park
Rogers Park
Lincoln Park

Chicago Oak Street Beach Lake Shore Drive


Chicago Chinatown – YCTV
Ukrainian village

Ukrainian Village neighborhood video from Dream Town
Wicker Park
Albany Park
The Loop
Downtown Lake Front

Buckingham Fountain in Chicago – YCTV
North Center
Roscoe village
Hyde Park

Hyde Park Chicago 2009
Logan Square

As long as I am making lists, I have also seen so many different peoples. I have seen:
Africans (from all over the continent)

Man, that would make for one great quilt!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Guys

I am learning a lot at Emmaus. Some of the information I can use in my classes. I can certainly use some of this in my Human Sexuality course. I can also use some of it in Psychodiagnosis, Social Cultural issues, Family Therapy, Substance Abuse Counseling and Counseling Skills. Much of what I learned can be incorporated in the Pastoral Counseling courses.

However, I am more interested in the issues I have seen surface. Legal issues, trauma and developmental delays permeated many of our days. Training staff with varied backgrounds seems to be a challenge. How do you teach clear boundaries and nurturing? Clearly it can and has been done. However, in psychology I do not speak of “loving” my clients, the staff here does in fact love the guys. That makes boundaries even more important.

Brokenness is also an important concept. Because the assumption is that we are all broken that helps make a more accepting environment. It reminds me of teaching my students to look for continuums because we can always place ourselves on those continuum s. Recognizing our own brokenness keeps us humble and humility connects us to our guys.

Labels are also important. Are our guys prostitutes or hustlers or is that a behavior they participate in? The difference is important. Most of us are far more than just one behavior, thought or feeling. Does “prostitute” best describe a man who is hustling because he has a sick infant who needs food now? Does it describe a man who will not accept food offered to him until he can feed his baby first? I think “desperate parent” would be a better description.

Is a man with limited intellectual abilities but an attractive face and physique best described as a prostitute? Might the real issue be that he is doing what he can to survive because other skills were not developed?

There are so many confounding factors. Paranoia, psychosis, trauma and abuse and drug addiction all complicate the picture. The variables certainly demand that each man be viewed as a unique individual and not as one label. None of this implies that the guys should be protected from the consequences of their behavior, nor is it an excuse for us to enable them. It is reason to care, to try to walk in their shoes and to see them as fellow children of God struggling in this life. The question is, who are we suppose to help, who are we suppose to forgive and how often, who are we called to love?

Brokenness, redemption and transformation are far more important concepts than DSM labels or moral judgments. Walking with them, being with them and modeling alternative relationships is important.

What I was not prepared for was the depths of their faith. However, when you’re alone at night on the streets, when danger can be anywhere, who do you turn to? Whom can you trust?

I am learning a lot. Most of it is about me and what it means to truly walk with someone.

Emmaus and Chicago: Day Nineteen

The morning started with “Street Feet”. This is an activity meant to get the guys moving and practicing healthy behaviors. Basically we meet at Emmaus and then go to the Lake and walk or run for an hour. Today was beautiful. The air was warm but not overwhelming; the breeze was cool and scented with blossoms. The skyline was beautiful, the lake was clear and the park was full of people. This is an activity that is in conjunction with a local church. The problem is our guys don’t want to walk or run. So it is a project they may grow into. Still, I thought it was a great idea.

After walking and doing my laundry I headed for downtown. My goal was to go to St. Peter’s in the Loop for Mass and Reconciliation. Never got to Mass. As soon as I came up the stairs from the subway I was in for a surprise. State Street was closed off, the Memorial Day Parade was about to begin!

So I stayed and watched it. It was great. All of the services were there. Veterans from WWII to present were there. There were JROTC units from all these high schools I remembered. The parade was long, loud and moving.

The family next to me was interesting. The mother said her mother was a prisoner during WWII in the Philippines and was rescued when McArthur returned. He husband had served in the military and her son is currently serving in the Israeli Defense Force.

After the parade I went to St. Peter’s in the Loop and had Reconciliation. I love that sacrament. I also like being in a center of Franciscans.

Finally my day at the Center started. It was not a particularly unusual day. A group of middle school aged kids from a local church arrived earlier and cooked. The evening was actually over early which has not happened before.

I followed up with going to Dollop, a local coffee house. I had coffee and read a chapter in A Heart for the Community. This is a book on urban ministry. Deacon John Green, the founder of Emmaus Ministries has a chapter on Emmaus in it. The coffee shop was this great kind of “Mother Earth” type environment. There was art for sale on the walls, fliers and announcements posted, papers to read, brick walls, tiled floors and mellow music. I loved it.

Afterwards Chris and I went to Our Lady of Lourdes for adoration. It was a rich, full day.

Chicago Memorial Day Parade - May 26, 2007 - Part 1 of 4

Friday, May 22, 2009

My Kind of Town

My Kind of Town

Emmaus: Day Eighteen

I get up and go to Mass. Nothing special, just nice. I still enjoy the diversity of Uptown. Walking down the street one is confronted by accents from around the world, yuppies and homeless, different faiths and different dress. It is a fascinating neighborhood.

I get to the Ministry Center early. This is my day to cook for the guys. Last night I cut up a boatload of beef and had it marinating in a Korean sauce. Today I make Korean beef, beans and corn, ginger rice. We have left over German Chocolate Cake. It is a good lunch,

It is a high energy crowd today. It is cold out. People need help with their court dates, housing and just getting along with each other. However, these folks are receptive to advise. They are also free at giving it to us!

One of our staff members, the director, Sil attends court today. One of our guys was found guilty of a crime and Sil is there to be with him during his sentencing. It is this commitment over time and situation that earns the trust of our guys.

It is a busy day. Chris is writing a letter of recommendation for housing, contingent on the guys commitment to treatment in the community. Lenette is writing guys in prison. The guys are busy with their chores and finally there is prayer.

When the day is over I go up the Kaio Community and crash. I sleep for almost 2 hours. It is my last Friday night in Chicago and I think I will spend it resting.

That doesn’t mean there are not things to do. There is the 2nd biggest convention of the year for the city, the International Mr. Leather convention. There is also Bear Pride. If that is not enough Chicago is one of two cities sponsoring the Grabbys. They are sort of like the Grammys but only for the Porn industry. However, I am boring, I am staying in tonight!

Smith's Museum of Stain Glass Windows: A Sampler

Emmaus and Chicago: Day Seventeen

I went to Mass. It was the Feast of the Ascension. This is special day for me beyond the obvious reasons. Three years ago I was in Assisi and along with some wonderful friends we ascended, we climbed Mount Subasio to get to a local and favorite hermitage of Francis. We climbed to the Carceri Hermitage. So I love this day.

Mary of the Lake also had all of the elementary children present. They filled 29 pews. They wore bright red sweaters and white colors. The girls had plaid skirts on. And they sang, boy could they sing. The children also were the lectors. One lector had a great African accent. During the last song the children all waved their arms as they sang. The church was filled with great energy.

When I got about to Emmaus I went down to the Ministry Center earlier. I was supposed to help a resident prepare lunch. However, he clearly did not need my help at all! I did have an opportunity to do an intake. That was interesting. There were questions I don’t normally ask. There were questions about spirituality and religion that I would not ask at a counseling center but I would ask at either a Christian /Counseling Center or in a Pastoral Counseling setting.

The Ministry Center was not initially active. So I used the occasion to do some video interviews. I interviewed Jonathon, the assistant executive director of Emmaus. I also interviewed Doug, the director of outreach programs. I did a walking tour of the center, boy, am I NOT a movie maker.

In the past week we have dealt with health issues, housing issues, anger and relapse. However, we have also supported guys who now have jobs, apartments and are learning delayed gratification.

We had our Ministry Center staff meeting. At the end of the meeting I gave the team their Tau’s. I also gave them a large San Domiano Cross for the Ministry Center. Boy I am going to miss this place.

And then I went to the Art Institute of Chicago to see their brand new wing. It is dedicated to modern art. Gotta tell you, I really, really like the rest of the museum! The new wing is beautiful. However, I am drawn to the African, Indian, and European Art. My Asian Affairs undergrad comes out. I am just pretty ignorant about art and I am not going to take a class on art appreciation at this time, too tired.

I then walked to Buckingham Fountain. It is beautiful. It had been shut down to be repaired. It looks just as I remembered it.

I walked down Lake Shore Drive to Navy Pier and saw the sites. I liked the Pirate Tall Ship. I especially liked Smith’s Museum of Stain Glass Windows and the Crystal Gardens. ]

And then I walked some more. I walked down the shore line all the way to Montrose and then on to Wilson. I had three hours of walking. I was tired, sore but I enjoyed the sites. I enjoyed the walkers, joggers, skaters and bikers. I enjoyed the motor boats, sail boats and the kayak. When I got home I was exhausted but I also felt connected to the lakefront.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Emmaus: A Word

You may have noticed that I write about my trips, my adventures. I write about the Ministry in general terms. I write in even more general terms when I talk about the guys.

That is because I need to think about how I will tell their stories. I want to make sure I protect their identities. I want to help my readers understand that these guys are so much more than labels, they are full, complex men. They are made in the image of God.

I want to make sure that if our guys ever read this journal they will feel understood. I want to make sure they will feel their stories were told accurately. Most of all I want to make sure they do not feel judged.

So, I will eventually talk about some of their experiences in a composite manner. I will try to share their nobleness, their humanness and their struggles. But first I need to pause and consider how best to accomplish that.

Emmaus: Day Sixteen

I arrive at the Ministry Center only to be surprised. This has been a slow week. Yet the center is full. There are guys all over the place. Staff and volunteers are there. The guys are grilling meat for tomorrow.

Pam, a regular volunteer cooks for us. She makes BBQ pork, corn pudding, apple sauce, rolls, vegetable pizza, roasted potatoes, and a spinach, strawberry and sun flower seed salad. Afterwards she serves German Chocolate cake and a white cake with ice cream.

The guys are laughing, talking with staff. It sounds and feels like a holiday, a holiday with family members that you like.

The guys have worked on their goals. They do their chores. However, tonight there is a lot more teasing and joking between the guys and staff. I am glad I did not miss this evening.

Chicago: Day Sixteen: I Walked

I got home at 3:00 A.M. after working out reach. It was not a very busy night but Doug and I got to process my training. I slept and then got up at 8:30. I was out the door at 9:00. I was walking to the Center On Halsted.

I first stopped at the Lakeview Pantry. The lady I talked to told me that the pantry has had a 15% increase in cases in the past year. They are a local food pantry for a large area. They are now handing out over one million pounds of food a year. They have been around for 40 years. They have many programs. The pantry is the most visible. However, they also have home delivery of food, clothing, and case management. They also serve as a site for Heartland Health Outreach. This is an impressive local agency and I was glad to have had the opportunity to talk with them.

I then walk over to The Center on Halsted. This is a huge place. It is a three story, 55,000 foot building. That does not include the whole food store that rents from the Center. This is the largest GLBTQ center in the Midwest. It has multiple programs. These include a computer room, art galleries, a gym, a café, recreation rooms and programs, a roof top garden, counseling services and youth services. There are activities for folks who want to be able to socialize without using alcohol. There is theater. Many of the programs here are connected to outside institutions. That includes outside theater groups.

The place is friendly. I am greeted by many proud staff members including the director of recreational services. I notice that the Adler School of Professional Psychology has an office in the building. That is the school I went to.

I view the galleries, the roof top garden and the café. From the garden you can look down Halsted Street and see downtown Chicago. It is a great view. I wonder what potential there may be for Emmaus and the Center to work together to help the local youth. It may not be possible at all but dialogue is important.

Next I walk over to the Salvation Army Officer College. This is an impressive campus. The main building looks like something from 1910. I speak briefly to the reception and am given a number to call. I know Emmaus is working with the Army. I know the Army is struggling to find a way to be relevant and authentic in the neighborhood.

Next I walk over to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church. It is a large building with connecting school buildings. The church is closed but I am greeted by the administrator. He speaks briefly of the church and invites me to a service.

Finally I walk, and walk to Lincoln Park Zoo. I was a docent at this zoo in the 80’s. I love this place. It is one of the few free zoos left in the country. When I was a kid it was a horrible menagerie of animals. Lots of animals packed next to one another.
The animals were often neurotic or lethargic. By the time I became a docent that had change. They had moved to becoming a zoological park with an emphasis on fewer types of animals and more natural habitats. I was there when they opened the penguin house, the large mammal habitat, the great ape house, the polar bear habitat and the reptile house. That emphasis has not changed. The new buildings are incredible.

Finally I walk to the “L”. I have lunch at a West African restaurant. I then meet with Deacon John Green, the founder of Emmaus Ministries. We talk about my experience and about Emmaus. I then meet him in his office and do a video interview.

It is finally 4:00 PM and time to begin my shift at the Ministry Center.