“The only way to erase the margins is to stand with those who are at them.”
― Father Gregory Boyle
That is just one gem that I quickly typed into my phone while listening to “G” as his reformed gang members affectionately call him. I had the great fortune of hearing and meeting Father Gregory Boyle at the annual Children’s Promise Conference a couple of weeks ago spoke.
In addition to the quote above, here are some more profound thoughts he shared on helping those who stand at the margins. As June Pride Month approaches, I’m thinking especially of our LGBTQ sisters and brothers:
- Stand with the demonized and the demons will disappear
- The morality quest has never brought us together. It separates us.
- Help people know the truth of who they are.
- Stop trying to reach them. Let them reach your heart.
- Stand in awe of what the poor have to carry rather than in awe of what they lack.
- Only by being in kinship with those on the margins can we heal their wounds. And ours.
- Success can’t be your engine. You just delight in the person in front of you.
- The only non-delusional response to everything is kindness.
- Go from here to dismantle the barriers that exclude.
- If you are a proud owner of a pulse you are a delivery system of hope.
- Create a place where people can be seen and cherished. This will help them cherish themselves and others.
Some months ago in a Consider post, I highlighted Gregory Boyle’s book Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion. If you still haven’t read it, please do. It is moving, entertaining, even life-changing. Here’s a brief synopsis via Amazon:
“For twenty years, Gregory Boyle has run Homeboy Industries, a gang-intervention program located in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, the gang capital of the world. In Tattoos on the Heart, he distills his experience working in the ghetto into a breathtaking series of parables inspired by faith.
Arranged by theme and filled with sparkling humor and glowing generosity, these essays offer a stirring look at how full our lives could be if we could find the joy in loving others and in being loved unconditionally. From giant, tattooed Cesar, shopping at JCPenney fresh out of prison, we learn how to feel worthy of God’s love. From ten-year-old Lula we learn the importance of being known and acknowledged. From Pedro we understand the kind of patience necessary to rescue someone from the darkness. In each chapter we benefit from Boyle’s gentle, hard-earned wisdom.
These essays about universal kinship and redemption are moving examples of the power of unconditional love and the importance of fighting despair. Gorgeous and uplifting, Tattoos on the Heart reminds us that no life is less valuable than another.”