It Don’t Make No Sense

Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

Labels are tricky at Andre House. Sometimes the labels say things like: “DO NOT THROW AWAY.” Easy enough. Sometimes labels say: “PLATES” but the cabinet in question is full of bowls. Whether plates can be bowls is a whole discussion on its own — which would be fun to pursue! — but for now, let’s acknowledge that it was confusing if the cabinet was for plates or bowls.

Recently, we’ve seen a lot of police men on the block. Not fun.

“Nobody likes to see a police man driving behind them.”

-A local police man

There’s tension in the air when policemen drive down the street. People turn away. People ask what they’re here for. People pack up their bags and walk away. People go inside Andre House. People get arrested: trespassing, drugs, “mouthing off.”

To better understand the presence of police, we invited a police officer to talk with us before starting work in the morning. We sat in the conference room and talked. I wanted to hate him.

He was nice, though. He was straightforward and honest, and he had a sense of humor. After thirty minutes of hearing him talk about our guests, I trusted him. He seemed to get it, and he had way more experience of people living on our street than I did. He had been working in “The Zone” for longer than anyone in the room — besides Brother Richard of course. The policeman told us how people would ask him to send the homeless “away.” When he asked where they should go, they would simply respond: “just away.” We were all frustrated with that answer. It was hard to hate him after that.

White Tank is a mountain in the valley. White Tanks is a cemetery nearby. People are buried at White Tanks when they are left unclaimed by family or friends. Inmates, supervised by sheriffs, perform most of the physical work of the burial. I stood with Aidan, Father Eric (former Andre House staff), and two seminarians (Andrew and Tyler) as Father Eric presided over the funeral. We did four funerals. The fourth was for a baby. It took us some time to tell which side of the baby’s box was the head and which was the feet. We wanted to be sure to place the baby correctly into its grave. Fighter jets flew over us at various points in the funeral service. Luke’s Airforce Base is right next to White Tanks Cemetery. The jets that flew overhead were bone-shaking loud. There were a lot of planes that flew over during the funeral for the baby.

Andre House isn’t black and white. It’s quite a mix, really. Plates can be with bowls. Policemen are scary and mean and reasonable and kind. Fighter jets rip and roar over the funeral for an unclaimed baby. At first, the mix was jarring. It didn’t make sense. (Plates DO NOT belong with bowls!) Then again, being human doesn’t make much sense either. We are covered with the icky muck of our mistakes and at the same time filled with some pure spark of life and goodness. It feels like a contradiction.

But there’s a holiness to such things mixed and dappled.

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Luke Brennan

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