In my new neighborhood, I've just discovered an alley. I don't know why, but I like alleys. As a child, I grew up alongside one. I know I felt safe there. Not all children grow up feeling so safe. I met a few at Juvenile Hall recently and wondered about their stories. Did they even have a chance in this life?
My back yard used to face an alley (and the neighbors who live on the other side, and the ones who walk up and down). I used to take this alley for granted, just the way to come home. But there have been some memorable stories around that little piece of geography. I looked down one day and noticed a piece of paper folded and just laying there at my feet. Curious, I picked it up and the words took my breath away, and still do. I think you'll see what I mean. I'll change the names but it won't matter. The paper was a personal note.
It went like this: "Momma, They did not let me out. Call up here and do not talk to the officer that answer the phone. Ask to speak with Ms. Gray or Fletcher. Please don't forget. And ask her if there is a way for you to talk to me. Because you are unable to accept my call. If they don't tell you any thing. Ask them for the Commissioners number. I love ya Ma."
I didn't know this young person. They were obviously in trouble and they called out to their Mom. Why the note was discarded is a mystery. All I know is, there's life happening up and down our streets. All I can do, all anyone can do, is be alert to how we can take our own story and maybe offer a little bit of comfort to the frightened, love to the unloved. Maybe, if we are Christians, we can share the amazing story of Jesus and how He will love us even if we don't think anyone else does.