Title: Sometimes God Has a Kid's Face.
Author: Bruce Ritter.
Genre: Non-fiction, religion, sociology, abuse, psychology.
Publication Date: 1988.
Summary: For years, runaway children have been forced into abuse, slavery, and homelessness as a consequence of their decision. Father Bruce Ritter, a Catholic priest fed them, gave them a bed, talked to them, and understood them. By telling the stories of America's exploited street children, and his founding of Covenant House, Bruce Ritter exposes this issue in hopes that we all take action.
My rating: 7/10.
♥ Looking a gaggle of blighted tough-as-nails street kids smack in the eye and telling them they have an obligation to love you back takes a certain amount of guts. Maybe just not street kids either; maybe to say it to anyone.
♥ The boy never said a word. I never heard his voice. But he communicated superbly well. I went back yesterday. He was sitting on the couch, moving only his eyes. When he saw me he got up, walked over to the table, and set up a chessboard, arranging all the pieces. He didn't say a word. I have still never heard him speak. Maybe tomorrow.
A true story, word for word. You interpret it. Fear, exhaustion, loneliness (especially that), hunger, smelling how bad you smell, can take your voice away and unhinge your face, keeping only your eyes alive.
♥ The innocence was there, too. I think if you hurt enough and are afraid enough and alone enough, the pain, for a time, pushes back the bad and corrupt part of us, the evil habits, and lets the innocence show through. Maybe pain creates innocence. Maybe pain pushes us back through all the garbage and dirt to the time when we were clean. When we were children. And innocent.
...And he smiled an innocent smile. And for just a moment the pain was gone from his eyes and I understood that innocence destroys the pain that restored it.
♥ A street kid? The used-up ones? With one pair of pants? I wonder if they are maybe closer to You than I am? I mean there's their aloneness and fear and terror and abandonment... They shared that with You. I never did.
A street kid hoping for a father who won't forget his name and face, who doesn't know how to say prayers but wants to look good in his only pair of pants...
Do You love him more than You love me?
I guess if I were you, God, I would.
♥ We play the same game with God all the time. We don't like his "no strings" love for us either, particularly if the "us" includes a depraved innocent, a vomit-spattered derelict, or a pimp with a stable of children whom he rents by the hour. We try desperately to climb up out of the us by being good, by being better, by deserving more.
We demand that God love us because we are good, and we are good to make God love us. We have to pay for it. That's the way we've always played the game. And to know that God loves us not because we are good, but to make us so, is sometimes unbearable. Because as he loves us, so we have to love us, all of us.
And so I try to love the kid across my desk in a way he really can't understand at all. But grace does, and God working in a depraved and empty and terrified heart does, and maybe, just maybe, the innocence will return to that face and he will take his eyes off my jugular and stop pushing his toe into my foot under the desk. Maybe that child will become like a child. Maybe.
He is yours and mine. Like it or not, he is part of us.
♥ Christmas 1985
Merry Christmas, mister. Hey mister, do you wanna party? Are you looking for a good time... on Christmas Eve?
It's 10 bucks for the Globe Hotel and 20 bucks for me, mister... Give yourself a Christmas present, mister.
Jeez, I've got to stop crying. Nobody is going to buy me if I'm crying. It's bad for the john's head. It wrecks his fantasy when a kid he wants to buy has tears in her eyes.
I feel like such a jerk. Working the Cameo on Christmas Eve. People look at me real quick and then look away. Except the johns.
Bruce wants me to come to church on Christmas. He says God won't mind at all. In fact, He'd like to see me there, Bruce says.
I'd be afraid. With these clothes on! Midnight Mass would never be the same! Besides, if I ever tried to sing "Silent Night" I'd start to cry. Can you imagine me in church singing "Silent Night"? God would laugh.
Before He got mad, God would laugh.
I wish I could call my mother. It would be nice to know if she's okay. It being Christmas and all. She'd want to know what I was doing and where, but she already knows, and it would spoil her Christmas to know I was alive.
I wonder if she'd rather think I was dead. Maybe it wouldn't hurt her so much then. She could go back to thinking how it used to be on Christmas. When I was little. Before I left. Before I ruined things. Before Dad died...
Jeez, I've got to stop crying. Blue Fly will get real mad if he sees me crying.
Bruce says I should come to Covenant House for Christmas. The place looks great, he says. Christmas trees and presents for the kids and a big turkey dinner.
It's hard when it's somebody else's Christmas tree. You walk around all day long thinking of the time when you had one all your own.
When you had a family, and you got presents, and you were with people who loved you and who wanted to have you around.
It's hard to get presents from somebody you barely know. Who you never saw before yesterday. Who are just trying to make you feel good and be happy.
Sometimes it just makes it worse.
It's Christmas and everybody wants me to be happy.
Except Blue Fly! He wants me to work the Cameo porno theater and pick up 10 johns. Maybe they'll be sorry for me and give me some big tips - before they go home to their own wives and kids and decorate their own Christmas trees!
I wonder what kind of presents they're going to give the kids at Covenant House this year. I wonder if they'd let me in again, one more time. Bruce says he will.
My pimp, Blue Fly, sure won't like it. He really hassled me the last time I went to Covenant House. He beat me real bad. I don't want to go through that again!
I sure don't want to keep doing this either.
Maybe Bruce is right and God won't get mad at me on Christmas.