Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hard Lives

Every school day, for a couple of hours, I see them. They are the castoffs from an affluent society and they are more numerous than you think. Their lives are immeasurably tougher than you can imagine.

There is Pleasant Grove and then there is deep Pleasant Grove. I see both. The former is bad enough to be intolerable. The latter has to be seen, smelled, and heard to be believed. Deep Pleasant Grove is awash in the detritus of what had been a middle class area in the 1950's. The Main Street of deep P.G. is South Buckner Boulevard, a thoroughly ugly artery that has a new check-cashing store added each week. I counted 28 used-car dealers between Lake June Rd. and Elam Rd, a distance of less than two miles.

It's the people that alternately touch me and disgust me. I've seen a certain woman three times now on the peculiarly named "Antoinette" St. She is an elderly white woman whose gait and mannerisms fairly shout mental illness. She appears to weigh 80 pounds at the most. She is always carrying something in a plastic bag. My guess is that she is returning from a trip to the convenience store up the street and that the bag contains the bare essentials of her food supply. It breaks my heart.

I see welfare mommas entering the campus of Frederick Douglass Elementary. Since this is my fourth year to run this route, I've come to recognize many of them. They are perpetually pregnant. More often than not, they are also hand-in-hand with two toddlers...and they're arriving at the school to pick up the child(ren) in kindergarten. Their faces bear the marks of struggle...not necessarily physical marks, but displaying defeat, remorse, and anger. They don't know life, they know survival. They are ill-equipped to reverse or even slow down the cycle of poverty, children, and transient boyfriends.

I am as far away from a solution to all this as east is from the west. Where would you start? I mean, what is the first thing that needs to be done? Should we be more concerned with their physical plight or their souls? I haven't even a whimper of a clue. I do know how good it feels to get in my car and return to the land of plenty. And how bad it makes me feel.


Lynn said...

I think I would start with prayer that God would open my eyes to what He would have me to do. You can't help them all, but perhaps He will put a specific face on your heart where you can begin to make a difference. However, my best guest is you are already making a tremendous difference by being His presence everyday to those children who step on your bus.

Blake Perkins said...

I really doubt I will ever be in this square ever again.

West of Big Town Blvd.
North of 175
East of Lawnview
South of Forney Rd.

Heather said...

Wow, I too have a heart for the castoffs of society. I use to visit the I-45 bridge to help feed the homeless every Tuesday from 4-5pm. It is truly heart-breaking to see how many people have families who've just excommunicated them for one reason or another. Often times drug use, mental illness or alcoholism was the culprit. I wish I had an answer to the plight of poverty. It is heart-breaking to say the least. Sometimes the thought "How can they live like this"....would cross my mind. When it's all you know then you just keep going. We are truly blessed by OUR circumstances Tim. I'm thankful, as I know you are that we're educated, have our faith in Jesus and have pretty well-adjusted families. The only thing that seperates us from them are bad choices. Whether that be generational or whatnot. Ever heard of generational sin? It abounds everywhere, rendering its "victims" helpless. My prayer is that in some way your ministry to their kids finds it's way to the core of their home's. Otherwise, we can look forward to increased violence from younger generations and an overcrowded prison system. I think we CAN pray for them. Jesus always reached out to the poor and destitute, expecting nothing but faith in return. Thanks for the reminder of just how good we have it and just how bad our neighbors have it. We should stop sending money overseas as a country and deal with the poverty at our own back doors...but that's another discussion for another day.

Brooke said...

It is amazing to me how often I hear my students refer to "PG" with such awe and glory. They think that it is cool to be in "PG."