Thursday, April 1, 2010

Leslie Retires (Mercy and Justice)

On retiring, good to look at what you’ve done these past years…

Working together, from the Police Storefront to St. Joseph’s to the very difficult days at Emanuel Lutheran - evicted from the storefront, evicted from St. Joseph’s, then evicted again, this time from Emanuel (thanks to the manipulations of a minister and his doctor buddy) and all these evictions in the span of about 18 months! And through the whole sorry mess, working together to heal the sick and lift up the poor. Doing that before these times and still at it.

I’m not so much writing about your work with Cambodian refugees as I’ve written about that elsewhere, but why not a little more here? We worked together seven days a week, apartment to apartment, “my friend” to “my friend,” street to street. Extreme stuff, extreme situations, extreme effort and actions Lay Rith, “Grandmother,” Sang Van, the man with no face, Fitzhugh, San Jacinto, Carroll, Live Oak, Bryan, mean streets, mean apartments, crowded. Good God it was crowded! Sany, Meng, the man who died in the night, searching for a naked crazy girl, miscarriage, birth, death, New Year! Mattresses piled 5 high, curtains around the beds, Christmas lights, Kao Sanh, and then Tep Kim Suar and the refugee agency guy saying, “I can go maybe $200” (for the funeral), Parkland, Children’s, WIC, Food Stamps, children finding a dismembered prostitute in a dumpster and a (different) refugee agency guy saying, “Well, at least the Cambodians are used to that sort of thing,” Yuon, Mao, sweet Mao, Rann Soth Rith, Yan Sorn with her little white tennis shoes saying, “Yesss” and her boss saying, “See, she do too speak English.” You and Alison saving, literally saving 3 children (and the molester got life without parole).

What stands out more than anything, though, is the immense good you’ve done. The woman with rheumatoid arthritis crying silently. The refugee, nice guy, completely psychotic who is still to this day reaping the benefits brought by you. The man with cancer on his nose. Lines of people, 100s of people, 1,000s of people – literally – passing by you, Leslie at the desk! Burying people, driving people, having security called to “remove you from the premises,” battling, like some mythic heroine, against the forces of evil and inertia and just not caring. Bruised and bleeding for Justice. Investing in Hope. Helping students. "Maryam" – dying from breast cancer in that little apartment, with her cousin and her mentally ill brother and the psychiatrist saying why are you calling me? Diane, true heart, doing the heavy lifting on that deal. Valeria, with her new (pink) wheelchair. Names that can’t be named here – lives touched so deeply and even into generations. Entire families on Parkland HealthPlus. Karen man who, by the time his new leg arrived, was already gone. Someone’s brother, with AIDS and quite a collection of opportunistic infections, treated successfully and 7 or 8 years later, doing well. Elsie in a dirt-poor trailer, bad craziness, long hair. Guadalupe S., living in the corner house and her husband having a jalapeno taco and a beer for breakfast. Bills from Children’s, Baylor, places all over. Appointments – how many people got what they needed when they needed it! A refuge for the wounded. Teaching hundreds of people how to do mercy – and I swear to God, some will do mercy. And this just part of the past 10 years.

Complete dedication to justice, hope, doing good and guiding me to that consciousness and then giving entering into boddhisatva consciousness when you gave up the joy of doing good to work all the time for a milieu where others could do good. And doing a superb job of that, building the clinic, building a surplus, creating a financially healthy organization now poised to go forward to a new day.

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did for me.'"

Thank you to the many people who were and still are a part of this dream of mercy and justice. Martin, Allison, Pat, Jackie, Patrick, Meg, Mack, Dan F, Mary Ann, Vuong, Kelley, Aaron, Diane, Chuck Hudson, Jim Carvell, Kim, Tammy, Renee, Aletha, David Kemp, the Promotoras, and especially Nora and Mary – all these people dreaming dreams of the reality of mercy and justice.

And through it all, a great mother and wife.

I saw an expert on human behavior interviewed in relation to an incident where someone was hurt and no-one intervened. He said, only about 5% of people intercede in these and other situations! No wonder we’ve pissed of so many people!

1 comment:

Diane Mitschke said...

I LOVE this post! It makes me cry every time I read it--and I've now read it 4 times! I am so blesed to call Leslie a friend.