Friday, 8 August 2008

I made a decision after all.

Last week I said I couldn't decide who I would give a blogging award to, as I really like so many of the blogs I read. However, there is one blog which is just in a league of its own in my view. It's so honest, so challenging, so counter-cultural, so real, so.... well I don't know how to describe it. You'll need to read it. I'm going to give him the award and award a joint second place to all the rest of you.

Under the Overpasses is written by someone who is a director in a homeless shelter across the pond. I briefly worked in a homeless shelter myself, twenty two years ago, in Glasgow, but of course there is some overlap between the clientele of a homeless shelter and the clientele I come across in Prisonworld.

I know a few Bible translators, working in remote and poor parts of the world. I think of four in particular who are single ladies. Each of them is physically attractive, a university graduate, highly intelligent, and just generally gifted. I often think that some people would think they were throwing their lives away, that they could have "been something" had they stayed in this country. Bible translation is a long haul. Two of them have been working for fifteen to twenty years "out there". They are heroes of the faith as far as I'm concerned. Humble servant hearts who are "pouring" out their lives so that people can have a copy of God's Word in a language they can understand properly. "Under There" is in the same category as far as I'm concerned. As you read his blog you know he's a gifted writer. His clients will neither know that nor care if they did. He's pouring out his life for them though.

A recent post made me laugh but also expressed very well the huge challenge for us as Christians to put our Christian faith into practice. On Sunday we sit in church and soak up the language and the message of God's love, but then on Monday all of us have to figure out minute by minute how we actually "perform" our faith. In his post he talks about the Anglican prayer book and how it scripts everything in the service, including the congregation's response, who sits where, stands where, does what, etc. and he wishes his working life had such minute and detailed directions.

He says:
"One minute I am sitting at my desk in my office. The next minute I am out front trying to stop traffic so that the naked man who has been huffing paint does not get run over in the street. “Wait a minute, he actually has a tattoo on his butt that says ‘Live to ride, Ride to live.’ Oh no, that car almost hit him! I wish the police would hurry up and get here.” I would give anything for rubrics for my daily life and work. I can only imagine instructions like: “If the intoxicated man flips his middle finger, the Director responds by saying…” “If he moons you, an alternate form may be used.” “When desired, Directors may be appointed to slap the crap out of abusive husbands. In Lent, they may use a baseball bat.” “If a mentally challenged person gets a monthly check, it is appropriate to hide the income from predators in some convenient place.” “In place of calling 911, or in addition to it, the staff may use any of the additional means to keep upset lovers from jumping the fence.” “The Director or staff member faces the People and says…” “Here a No Smoking in the bathrooms anthem is sung or said.” “On weekends the following resources for mental health emergencies may be used.” “A hungry lady with children takes precedence over a lazy man requesting seconds at lunch.” “If a fundamentalist questions the validity of providing GED training to the homeless, hit him with a Bible while singing ‘Inglorious things of thee art spoken’ or, turn to page 732 for additional directions.” “It is always appropriate to yell at agencies that dump people like garbage at homeless shelters.” “If a guest urinates on the sidewalk use Lysol, then follows generous amounts of hot water.” Sigh…of course, there is no such book of homeless shelter rubrics. There are so many invariables that the book would certainly resemble those massive, old Bibles that were kept chained to the tables in old Cathedrals. At the end of the day, the rubric that I usually find best to follow in just about every situation is my favorite, “Silence may be kept.”"


Under there... said...

Wow. Thank you! I am truly honored and humbled. The Bible translators that you mentioned are an inspiration. I wish they had a blog! The funny thing about vocation , as you know from your work, if you do what you were made to do, there is real joy. Like you, I love what I do and supsect those ladies in remote parts of the world do also. Thank you again for the award. I am really moved by what you said here!

Anonymous said...

I shall pop over and check out this new blog!

The piece you quoted made me laugh, and also provides an insight into the life of people who do this work. I couldn't do it - I would just break all the rules and get sacked. ;)

St Edwards Blog said...

I came over via Under There... You chose him wisely, it is a spectacular blog.

I laud you for your choice.

Yours is pretty interesting as well.

Peace to you and yours.


much2ponder said...

I popped over here from under there...seems we are in somewhat the same line of work. Somehow I never ran across your blog before, but I will stop back and read some more if you don't mind.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I clicked over to Under the Overpasses and forgot to comment here. Good choice.

AnneDroid said...

You're welcome, UT.

Thanks, the rest of you.