If you’ve read Father Greg Boyle’s book Tattoos on the Heart, you know he typically travels with some “homies” (guys who are in the program at Homeboy Industries – leaving the life of gangs, drugs, and violence behind in order to build a new life and career). When Father G came to speak at our annual Together Nights in 2015, he brought two homies with him: Enrique and Enrique. The Enriques – as I like to call them.
That’s right. Both guys are named Enrique.
This trip to the Northwest was the first time either man had flown in an airplane. It was the first time either Enrique had been out of Los Angeles. Father G took them out for a day of exploring Seattle.
Father G said the Enriques were fascinated by the water (they had lunch at the waterfront). The guys were trying to see fish and any other living creatures in the water – so Father G decided to take them to the aquarium. He told me, “I know the place is kind of for the kids, but I thought what the heck – they want to see some fish – I’m gonna take them.”
Describing the Enriques at the aquarium, Father G said, “They walked around wide-eyed in wonder with their mouths open the entire time.”
Before the evening service, we sat around a large conference table with Father G, the Enriques, and a few friends. Enrique (the older) was sitting next to Tina Francis – who was holding her son Ezra. Later, I noticed that Enrique was holding Ezra. Somebody at the table said, “Enrique, you must be a father.”
Enrique nodded his head yes, then said, “I just got my kids back two days ago.”
During the evening service, Father G had the Enriques speak before he came up. They shared their stories with grace and humility. They were dripping with hope. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever experienced in church.
We had expected to be a blessing to the Enriques. We wanted them to enjoy their experience here in the Northwest. We tried our best to spoil them…
But I realized something that night as I listened to the Enriques. They were a blessing to us.
After being introduced by Enrique (the older), Father G came up to speak. I scribbled notes as quickly as I could. Father G was talking about dismantling the walls that exclude and standing with the disposable so that one day we will finally stop throwing people away.
He talked about bridging the distance between the server and the ones we are helping. He said: “Kinship is the goal.” And then he posed a question…
“Who is the service provider and who is the service recipient?”
I knew exactly what he was driving at. I had just experienced this very thing – thinking that I was serving the Enriques and they were receiving from me, only to discover that they had served me and I had received so much from them.
Quoting from Tattoos on the Heart – the chapter on kinship:
Suddenly there’s kinship. Not service provider and service recipient. No daylight to separate—just “us.”
Exactly what God had in mind.
Often we strike the high moral distance that separates “us” from “them,” and yet it is God’s dream come true when we recognize that there exists no daylight between us. Serving others is good. It’s a start. But it’s just the hallway that leads to the Grand Ballroom.
Kinship—not serving the other, but being one with the other.
Jesus was not “a man for others,” he was one with them. There is a world of difference in that.
* * * *
The Enriques showed me something on May 14, 2015 at NWLife Church in Renton WA…
I’m not God’s gift to the world. I’m not the hero, the rescuer, the great helper.
God’s dream for me isn’t that I would be the one who blesses the “others,” but that we would be one, family.
No “us” and “them.”