Reflection for October 2019

Fr John Wolf

By Father John Wolf, CPPS

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,

And spills the upper boulders in the sun;

And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.


Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

That wants it down. …

“Mending Wall” — Robert Frost

We who live and minister under the banner of the Precious Blood of Jesus can perhaps appreciate the metaphor offered in these verses of poet Robert Frost. Our spirituality is a gift and grace that flows from the reconciling action of Jesus who brought peace through the blood of his cross, “breaking down the barrier of hostility that kept us apart” (Ephesians 2:14). As Precious Blood Missionaries, we see Christ’s shedding of his blood as a call to breach walls that divide, make openings where “two (or more) can walk abreast” and to stand in solidarity with those who suffer injustice in the world.

A couple years ago I came across a story about Linda Solomon, renowned photojournalist. She learned the power of photography, how it often speaks better than words. Her special project was “Pictures of Hope.” She traveled to some of our major cities, beginning with her home city of Detroit. She would enter homeless shelters and teach the children — children whose hopes and dreams were often lost — how to express their hopes and dreams in photographs. First, she would give a lesson on how to take good pictures. Each child would get a small camera, and with the help of a mentor, would go out and capture in pictures what they most hoped for, and dreams of what they could become. Before heading out, they wrote up a list of their hopes and dreams. Seldom did they list material things. Rather, they listed things like, “to help Mom when she is stressed,” “to have friends,” “to become better than the people who look down on me.”

A 9-year-old girl wrote: “No one in my family has gone to a college … I want to change that.” She took a picture of the entrance to San Diego State University. Her photo led to a scholarship to the school. Another child took photos of daisies, and she wrote, “my hope is to live.” A 10-year-old-boy took a picture of his own hands making a heart, with the caption: “My hope is to show people I am not a nobody.”

At each site, Linda ends her program by hosting a “Meet the Young Artists” reception to show the children’s work. Many of the photos are made into holiday cards, with proceeds going to the shelter. At the time when I came across the story, she had been to homeless shelters in 14 cities. What a powerful way of opening the children’s eyes and hearts so they could see beyond the walls of the homeless shelter, and draw closer to the beauty and the love of God in whose image they are wonderfully made. She helped the children see that the walls of the homeless shelter did not define them, that the human spirit yearns to be free.



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