Shadows & Dust / Vol. V, Issue 3

I spent this morning visiting the local health and human services building, workforce center and local library, among other places, to pass out flyers and “curb kits” for a lunch reception we’re having tomorrow at The Refuge. It will be held during our regular Refuge Café hours from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., and is especially designed to welcome our neighbors who are struggling with homelessness. People like Mike, who I met today on the off-ramp of a local highway.

This is not just a Refuge thing either.We’re working in partnership with several other churches and with Broomfield’s housing authority to try to get the most accurate count possible of people who are homeless for this year’s Point-in-Time (PIT) survey. (It’s facilitated by the Metro Denver Homeless Initiative throughout our entire region.) Our hope is that more accurate numbers will help us raise awareness of the need for more affordable housing here in Broomfield. And on a more immediate level we’re hoping a hot meal, a care package and a chance to win a gift certificate for gas or groceries will offer some hope to folks who are in the midst of difficult circumstances.

It’s easy for me to feel overwhelmed by all the suffering in the world, especially on days like today, which is why I turn to the wisdom of others who have walked similar paths before me. Check out the following books and movies for their treatment of suffering and beauty and community and possibility:

“Into the Wild” — Just watched this 2007 biographical film about a passionate young man who leaves the trappings of civilization behind. It’s directed by Sean Penn and based on the 1996 book by Jon Krakauer. Powerful, sad, worth watching if you’re in the mood for something challenging and meaningful.

You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir by Sherman Alexie — One of my favorite authors published a memoir last year on his beautiful and painful and complicated relationship with his mother. Like his other books, this one is funny and poignant and irreverent in all the best ways.

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown — This book won’t actually come out until May, but it’s already gotten great reviews.

Aunt Safiyya and the Monastery: A Novel by Barbara Romaine and Bahaa’ Taher — Taher, one of the finest Arab novelists writing today, weaves a story about division and revenge through the desperate journey of a young Muslim man who finds refuge with a group of Coptic monks.

The Dream of God: A Call to Return by Verna Dozier — This schoolteacher-turned-theologian helped revolutionize Bible study and help empower a generation of Episcopalians.

The Thin Light of Freedom: The Civil War and Emancipation in the Heart of America by Edward L. Ayers — An important history from below of our country’s most cataclysmic era.

Looking for a calendar for the year? Recently came across a great liturgical one that highlights the Christian “seasons.

Costs of War — This project of Brown University presents some very interesting and revealing statistics that every American should know.

Marrton Dormish

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