Streetwise

[A repeat from March 18, 2013 – and I continued to see Manuel standing there – every day – until I retired]

Every day when I walk to work, there is a gentleman standing in front of the Corner Bakery across from my building.  He sells Streetwise — a weekly publication.  Manuel struggles to walk – with crutches – but he stands guard outside the CB from early morning until about noon.    Rain or shine.  I usually stop to exchange a few words with him and ask him how he’s doing.  And I buy a copy of Streetwise once a week.  Streetwise sells for two dollars though my math is not always good.

Streetwise was started in Chicago in 1992 by Chicago lawyer Judd Lofchie   The mission of Streetwise is to assist Chicago area men and women, who are facing homelessness, to achieve personal stability by providing them with a combination of supportive social services and immediate access to gainful employment.  Streetwise vendors are usually trying to make a go of it.  They are not to be confused with panhandlers. 

In my post of July 11, 2012, I wrote about Henry Nouwen – the great religious/spiritual writer.  Henry Nouwen in his treatise Out of Solitude wrote “The temptation is that we use our expertise to keep a safe distance from that which really matters and forget that, in the long run, cure without care is more harmful than helpful.”   Streetwise seems to be on the right track — offering cure, the all-important care — and a strong dose of compassion.   

Henry Nouwen

(A summer repeat from July 12, 2012)
One of the great inspirational/spiritual writers of all time was Henri Nouwen (1932-1996). Henri Nouwen was born in Holland. At an early age, he felt a call to the priesthood. He was ordained as a diocesan priest in 1957 and studied at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, KS. Henri went on to teach at Notre Dame, the Divinity School at Yale University and Harvard University. He died suddenly — and all too early — in 1996.

For several months in the 1970’s, Henri lived in a Trappist community at the Genesee Abbey in New York. In the early ’80’s, he lived in Peru among the desperately poor. After a time of contemplation, he left the seemingly bright world of academia — to go and work with mentally handicapped adults at L’Arche Daybreak in Toronto. It was at L’Arche that Henri felt his greatest fulfillment. He was a prolific writer and in 2003, a Christian Century survey rated his works number one among Catholic and mainline Christian clergy.

I was referred to Henri some years ago by my dear friend David. On his recommendation, I have read most of Henri’s works. Wow! Spiritual. Inspirational. Moving. And somewhat melancholy – knowing that Henri died at such a young age. Return of the Prodigal Son is one of his most famous – and probably my favorite. I was given a copy by my friend and priest – Fr. Bob. Return is worth a second read. . . . which I’m planning. . . . . If you have to pick one of Henri’s books to read — this is the one.

[Afterword – I read it a second time.  It is now on the shelf for a third]