Tuesday, June 22, 2010

BASE Camp 2010 Day Three - Small Things

"It is not what we do that is important, but how much love we put into what we do: we should do small things with great love."
~ Mother Teresa

Small things with great love. Again and again today we were told that these seemingly small things we do when we venture into Southwest Baltimore demonstrate great love. And, as Brother Joe told me today, "your young people have truly transformed our community."

It was a busy day today with multiple crews going in varying directions. We did everything from street cleanup to setting up for a retirement party to moving furniture. Along the way we talked with a great many people, many who shared with us the joy they felt we had brought to their community. One young man - who goes by the name "Pig" - kept circling around us on his bicycle. Every time he came close and we tried to strike up a conversation with him he'd turn and ride away. But within a few short moments he would return, each time venturing closer. Finally he dismounted the bike and - still not really conversing - picked up a rake and began helping with the work. He helped us finish the work on that street and then rode off again. But little moments like that, where we have the opportunity to make even the smallest connection with someone are true gifts.

During lunch our group was visited by Laurie, who shared with us her struggles with alcohol and drug addiction and how organizations like Hezekiah Movement helps keep her clean and productive. She talked with joy about her three children, the middle one planning on entering college this fall. Her journey into addiction began at the age of 13 as a result of peer pressure and it's been a 27 year battle for her, But there was much joy and hope in how she views her life today and her continuing recovery. Our young people strongly affirmed her path and promised to pray for her.

One of our crews worked on a prayer garden behind the newly opened "Island of Hope" building. If you're familiar with the television program "The Wire" which infamously chronicles the drug wars in Baltimore or "Homicide: Life on the Street" you may also know that the Baltimore writer whose works these are based on - David Simon - also co-wrote the book "The Corner" about Baltimore's most notorious drug trafficking location. Island of Hope is located on this corner. It is indeed an island of hope for the community - a place where people of the community can join together to pray, to meditate and to find healing. The prayer garden itself was one of the first lot cleanups we did back in 2005 (before BASE Camp was BASE Camp). It's incredible to see what the small seed planted five years ago has grown into. That crew was supervised by Jerry Buettner - a fellow youth minister, good friend, and social justice shining light. Jerry calls Baltimore "Smalltimore" because of it's neighborhood character. And it seems everyone knows Jerry - again and again I encounter people that have somehow had their lives touched by Jerry. Our young people had a great day working with him.

We made new friends on the basketball courts of the Hollins Market community and unfortunately had to say good-bye to one old one... Sr. Kitty. Sr. Kitty had to travel to a national conference of Mercy Sisters in Charlotte, North Carolina and won't be able to be with us for the remainder of the week. This pained her greatly because she loves spending time with our young people. But she also left town confident in the knowledge that our young people would perform the work spectacularly, infusing each small act with great love. We won't let her down.

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