I have read a lot of books this year, both fiction and non-fiction, but the book that has impacted me the most has easily been Fr. Greg Boyle’s Tattoos On The Heart.
We were fortunate enough as a community to hear Fr. Greg speak in Boston about a month ago, and I read the book shortly after. Maybe the timing was just right, but his speech/the book gave a voice to so much of my experience this year through his message of kinship, solidarity, and dignity.
As I read, these two quotes in particular stood out:
Here is what we seek: a compassion that can stand in awe of what the poor have to carry rather than in judgement of how they carry it.
Sr. Elaine Roulette, the founder of My Mother’s House in New York, was asked, “”How do you work with the poor?” She answered, “You don’t. You share your life with the poor.” It’s basic as crying together. It’s about “casting your lot” before ever becomes about “changing their lot.”
This year has taught me so much, and one of the most important things has been this centrality of sharing stories, of knowing and being known, and putting a face on the abstract.
Needless to say, I plan on purchasing my own copy of Tattoos on the Heart after this year is over, and I have a feeling it will take up permanent residence on my bedside table. Out of the 30-ish books I have read so far this year, it is the one I most wish I could give a copy of to everyone I know.