Saturday, June 24, 2006

Red Lake I : The Grate

I sat as my arms moved rhythmically over the air grate. I scrubbed and scrubbed in order to cleanse it of that day’s latest conflict. This beating had been particularly bad as I remember seeing venomous hate emote from a boy who was too young to know what manhood truly was, and fearfully never would. My hand (protected by latex) worked ever so hard to cleanse the area in the gym of Red Lake Elementary school where the swarms of children would play day in and day out. Some of the blood sopped up easily, and some of it took work. I wondered on this for a moment, for though this was the last task that I was performing in this particular duty, the former being that of cleansing the boy and the whereabouts of where he had journeyed in his time of injury, I knew that the time spent was hardly enough for the blood to harden in such a way. It was then that I realized that it was not only this boy’s blood that I dutifully cleaned, but it was that of previous and equally violent confrontations. This boy’s blood mingled with that of others, and the spots were marks, prideful insignia, of the battles won (or lost) in this particular area; I realized this grate was one symbol of many of the life that was to be lead here, the life that encased these children when they weren’t dancing joyfully here at YouthWorks! Kids Club; they lived a life unknown of discipline, joy, hope, opportunity.

Later in the week I would get the chance to interact with the boy who had started the fight. He called me an asshole and promptly threw a large projectile (a rock) at the van that we had just courteously taken him home in. My heart sang the saddened song that echoes Paul’s word to Timothy proclaiming him the worst of sinners because my head battled intensely my heart’s desire to allow the flesh to rise against such ardent and blatant disrespect and violent temperament. Luckily, Christ knows the struggles of the human heart and gave me the courage to live a moment in love and peace, and again I saw his light in the wisdom he gave me through the kind words that exuded from me as I spoke friendly to a girl who had been dropped at the next stop. She had been chided by the boys for wetting herself, and in a moment of distress, Christ gave me the words of peace to speak to this child. Within minutes I realized that my spirit had entered into the extremes of battle the darkness within to releasing all inhibitions to his grace through me and seeing the fruit of love; If only at all times I could hold out my hands and scream with passion and intent the famous words of the Five Iron Frenzy Song “Here’s my heart Let it be forever yours!”.

It was in these moments I knew the true nature of the mission that God had sent me on. To see beauty in the eyes of a child of hopelessness, and to give love to a child suppressed by a desperate and violent culture. The blood on the grate revealed the struggle of a community to overcome the battles of gang life, drug addiction, lethargy, apathy, alcoholism, and decay of spirit in every way; it was that of an eight year old. Satan tempts me with the lighted cavern wall of despair and needlessness. He would have me give in to thoughts of failure and helplessness in the face of such an ardent and hard ministry, but in the light of day it is the window of the Spirit that ultimately freshens my spiritual eyesight anew and reveals the glories of His creation in a single child’s laugh; in the marked and astonishing intelligence of most four year olds; in even the small time of day that a child gets at least a little structure and love; from the experience of giving children a place of safety in a volatile community, and showing them the light of Christ if it even makes up a minute portion of their lives.

This is Red Lake. It is a darkened place, but even here the light of Christ anticipates the hearts of men and shines out in the beauty of His making.

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