In an attempt to succeed I believe each of us forgets our relationship with the ‘other’. I become engulfed in my endeavor for success, whether it is as a partner, a parent, a friend, an advocate, or as a professional, that I misplace the experience with the ‘other’. I don’t believe I’m unique in this respect. Society’s expectation for success has become exceedingly competitive. I strive to have the perfect partnership, have the best child(ren), be the bestest BFF, be the loudest advocate, and be the indispensable professional, and yet lose my place in “the circle of compassion and kinship.” Tattoos on the Heart, The Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle reminds its readers to slow down, stop, and sincerely decide to share ourselves with the ‘other’. It is in this sharing that our united faith in truly being with the ‘other’ leads us together in triumph.
As a pastor, Father Gregory Boyle works in a neighborhood with the highest concentration of murderous gang activity in Los Angeles and has created an organization to provide jobs, job training, and encouragement so that young people could work together and learn the mutual respect that comes from collaboration. Tattoos on the Heart, The Power of Boundless Compassion is a breathtaking series of parables distilled from his twenty years in the barrio. Arranged by theme and filled with sparkling humor and glowing generosity, these essays offer a stirring look at how full our lives could be if we could find the joy in loving others and in being loved unconditionally.
This is not only a must read, it is recurring read. A book to put by your bed to thoroughly read once, highlight, dog-ear, bookmark, and tag, and then re-read incessantly. It is a harsh shove, yet one that does not compare to the suffering, shame, and disgrace that is experienced by so many, not only in Los Angeles County. By homie standards it is a gentle nudge back into the “circle of compassion and kinship.”
I wholeheartedly take Father Boyle’s challenge to “stand in awe at what the poor have to carry rather than stand in judgment at how they carry it.” I can understand how we have “deemed them disgraceful and shameful” only to provide a home for shame in themselves, and therefore in ourselves. Let us now decide to “seek to create loving communities of kinship precisely to counteract mounting lovelessness, racism, and the cultural disparagement that keeps us apart.” Father Boyle, count me in!
By Gregory Boyle
Free Press, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
July 2010 Condor Book Tour | Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle
Book Tour Schedule
Mon July 5 | Dulce Bread and Bookshop Blog
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Wed July 7 | Rundpinne, Blowing Branches
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