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Not every Saturday night, but more often than not, the unassuming priest would walk through the cafeteria with the message.  “When I see those boys. I see Jesus in their eyes.”

Maybe Jesus, in this case, is LOVE and not a religious statement but rather a life statement.

  • What if he only sees LOVE in their eyes?
  • What if WE could only see love in each other’s eyes?
  • What if we could see LOVE without conditions?The life statement is more symbolic because of the environment.  These are not boys, that as parents are so proud of as displayed by bumper stickers on the back of cars, who are honor roll students.   Nor are they the “good” boys that are applauded, and most importantly, loved.

No, to the contrary, these are the “bad” boys.  These are the boys who are locked up, in a cage, and despite all of our rage they will still be the rat in the cage.  For the cage does not necessarily leave them, when they get out, but rather it may well stay with them forever.

  • Furthermore, are we not all in so many ways locked in our own cages?
  •  Are not the emotions locked inside of us, unable to express the feelings, directly leading to dis-ease?
  • Those emotional knots that culminate within, like the jail, protecting them from us – and us from them, is it not what is cause for so much social displacement of fear?
How often is it declared that the “truth must be spoken” although whose truth may that be?   Is truth not THE but rather A?  And, even if for arguments sake it is THE truth, is it that more important than kindness, love even?Or, are we incapable of seeing love in our own eyes?  Are we incapable of seeing love in the eyes of “them”, or “they” who are incrementally separate from the (a) truth, and “we” who are always right?   And, “they” who is not only wrong but equally bad?

  • What if we can stop all the bullshit, and it’s all bullshit, and simply love ourselves right now as we are in this moment?
  • What if we can stop all the bullshit, and it’s all bullshit, and simply love them for who they are now and even beyond their current state?
If he can see Jesus in the eyes of every boy who sits in jail, why cannot we?The retort is that, “they won’t learn their lesson?”   They must be punished for their misdeeds, right?  They must pay for their transgressions?

Instead of putting someone else in jail for being “lazy”, or being “fat”, or “stupid”, or simply not good enough, according to our standards, how about simply loving them.

The truth is:  you are overweight.  The truth is:  you are not living up to your potential.  The truth is: you are  not doing enough.  The truth is:  you will never be enough.

Or, that is A truth by our own perception based upon time and space and most often a reflection of our own current state.

If he can see Jesus in the eyes of every boy who sits in jail, why cannot we?Why cannot we see how often we put ourselves and others in a cage with the label of being bad, because we have had emotional trauma in the past that keeps us locked up and unable to be fully free?

And, yes, there are crimes against humanity but is not the most criminal of all the systematic lack of humanity itself?

When we reclaim our own humanity, 
when we are grateful for everything and everyone 
void of conditions and merely love, 
it can not only change the world 

but save the world.

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Sweet ‘ 16

You, my most beautiful one
So sweet but not so innocent
You my lovely will soon
Be forever put to rest
And into the distant  past
Let history be the judge
And the jury, my love
Of what you meant
Taken, they  were many
But so too was much gained
Nothing remains still
Except the stillness
In the night
Nothing remains unchanged
Except the change
Day after day
Now, as I must prepare
To give my final regards
Your face so young and bright
If only we have tonight
May I treasure you, my darling
As I should have always
we shared
Together, most of which are
Long forgotten in the wind
Lost in the rain and cluttered
In the clouds in between
Sunset and sunrise
I through my hands
Let you pass
Like sand softly sifting
And now I would be remiss
If I did not say
I’m sorry, my dear
Please oh please
Forgive me for my lack
Of foresight thinking
You, we, would be together
Until the end of time
Because, all we truly have
Is that, which is so often wasted
So rarely ravished and even less
Truly tasted for fear is often
The thief that steals the light
So, my love, before you go
As tears fill the streams
Washing away all the dreams
We had for each other
There is no tomorrow
It’s too late for us
Please I beg of you
Before it’s too late
Take but my kiss
Into the ever after

I love you
My Sweet ‘16


Help Is On Its Way

The young girl peered out the window seeing an elderly man in looking like he was walking aimlessly. Lost.  She rushed out and went up to his side.

“Where are you going?”  She inquired.

He looked down at her, and smiled.  “Where are you going?”

The girl wrinkled up her nose and whined, “OK.  Look, I’m just trying to help you, Mr.  What’s wrong with you out here wondering about?”

With but a smile, the withered figure hobbling on a crooked leg and a limp in his walk, continued down the path of an empty dirty road.

He said nothing without breaking his lumbering stride.

With a look of shock, the young girl looked out in the distance to see the decrepit house at the end of the trail, stopping in horror at the thought of what lies ahead.

“You can’t go there.  That’s where that wicked man lives.”  The stories she had heard.  “He’s done very, very bad things.  It’s dangerous. You can’t. You can’t.”   She begged.

Without missing a beat, he responded in kind, “I have, and so have you, done bad things” as he continued on his same course.

“But, but, Mr. please.”  Trying to get him to come to his senses.  “He is sick. I heard he’s even dying.”

He turned not to her, but kept his gaze straight forward. “Yes, he is.  We all are. And, so are you.”  His only reply as he continues forward.

Exasperated, she throws up her arms and screams.  “I am not responsible if you fall on your way down this path.  I’m not going to come get you if you start screaming for help.”

“Help, yes we can, when we help ourselves.  Help others we must, as we should ourselves.”  His voice trailing off at the end.

“Why do you talk in riddles?  That’s not very nice.” She inquired. “And, why don’t you slow down?”  As she tried to keep up.

There was silence.

The silence grew louder, as the little girl became more and more frustrated with this grumpy old man who refused to understand the danger he was in by going to places he shouldn’t be going and seeing people he shouldn’t be seeing.

Finally, he spoke as he walked.  “One day, you too may be living in that old broken down house, sick, alone, and dying. And, if that day should come to pass, I’ll come and see you too.”

Stammering away, she looked down at herself no long a little girl. In fact, she wasn’t a girl at all.  She, herself was as old as he, and she too had a crooked leg and walked with a limp.

See The Light, a story by Bryan Hayes

The light shining so blindingly bright that squinting is a necessity affords only two explanations.  Either this is the end, or only the beginning.   Is it not the light that is equated with spiritual illumination not to mention one’s final demise?

Eyes, as auto adjusting they are, begin to adjust.   The open field with a cement foundation that once may have been the residence of someone’s home or business now but history on the side of the busy street.   Walking distance from the car is a forest of trees.

“Want to see our home?”   She gestured as we entered into the depth of the woods.   Looking back, as the vehicle disappeared into the distance; the obvious remnants of civilizations began to materialize.  The customary empty soda cans, shopping carts, broken bottles, and other debris littered the sides of the path etched into the ground after years of following the same trail.

Once inside an entirely new world materialized in an open clearing with an encampment of several small tents forming a circle with a fire pit in the middle.  There a small flame was flickering as we were welcomed with open arms from the rest of her neighbors.

She was giddy.  They all were.  To have visitors must be such a delight for them.  We are social beings after all.   With no trepidation they each approached me with their own stories of how they fell from grace and ended up outside in this their permanent dwelling place.

Their obvious leader, a rather brooding figure sitting in a recliner with a machete at his side on the ground holds the fort together.  He, much younger than the rest also looks much less disheveled.   While there could be some interpretation there was something menacing about him, it was more his watchful eye that surely keeps unwanted outsiders out of their humble abode.

The spiral descending slide was a rapid one.   “I lost my job. Then, my wife left me and took everything with her.   She took it all.  I had a falling out with my parents early on and have not spoken to them in years.  I lost my house, my car and had no place to go.”  Not a social person, there were no friends who would take him in.   Somehow, he ended up here with the rest of them.   He spoke proudly of being a construction foreman living the American dream.  He asked about the mall that was nearby our own home back home and he was a part of building that.   Ironically, it now sits empty.   Homeless, too.

The others around him sipping their re-used cans filled with something that was obviously taking their mind to someplace far, far away.   Comprehension was far gone for all but him.   Being out in the elements for so long, it could readily be seen on their weathered faces and tattered clothes but verified when each of them spoke with their conversations going in and out of reality.

There was something pragmatic about their existence.   They though having nothing to offer invited me not only to dinner for a bite of canned beans that they were going to being passing around the open fire, but they welcomed me to visit any time I was in the area.    There was something enlightening seeing how they not only survived but found a sense of community amongst themselves.

In between the trees, there again the light pierced the veil and had my hand up protecting my eyes.    Were they seeing the light, out here, or going toward the light?   And, in all my travels where was I?

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Photographer: Bryan Hayes