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Everyone Matters — A Lasting Lesson from a Lost Brother

As one of Kurt Vonnegut’s characters in Slaughterhouse-Five says, “It’s a crime to be poor in America.” This is a truth my brother Larry experienced for decades. Larry taught me that everyone matters, and this lesson fueled a longing for a world whose policies and conditions reflected this basic fact.

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Living in the Dark Ages in Modern America

There is no excuse for political leaders and for the wealthy people who influence them to allow widespread poverty, hunger and disease. The starvation and disease that continue in many places would not exist if the people who hoard most of the wealth cared about helping their fellow human beings.

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Homelessness Means Being Cast Out of Civilization

If we become homeless, we find that the police aren’t here to protect and serve. Instead, they have become the strong arm of the law that tells us where we can’t be. It is the same arm that could punish us by taking us to jail for panhandling, trespassing, and disorderly conduct.

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Keeping Promises, While Remaining Open to the Spirit

My Moslem friends say “Insha’ Allah.” My Jewish and Christian friends say “God willing” or “If the Lord wills.” What is sacred and sagacious in these expressions is the admission that all of our plans and promises are subject to the unexplained, unsolicited and, at times, unwelcome veto of the Almighty.

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Oakland Pastor Reflects on the Occupy Movement

We, like 99% of the people marching in Oakland, were unified by the desperate condition of our world, our families and our future. We were the cry of the lost oak trees that once lived here, as well as the moans of the Ohlone people who once thrived here.

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Surviving Uncaring Board and Care Homes

I have experienced endless abuses in board and care homes, including substandard housing, lack of food and rigid rules that treat adults like children. Even the name “board and care” is a misnomer. All too often, the people who ran these homes couldn’t care less about their residents.

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The Mosaic Tree: A Community Creation

The tree we created is a fascinating reminder of what can be accomplished by a full spectrum of people working together toward a worthwhile cause. When it storms, this tree will hold fast to its roots. Raindrops can resemble tears. And like tears, they will one by one dry.

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Answers to Our Prayers: The Bearing Witness Chronicles

I was sitting at a cafe watching the world go by when the world came to me and taught me about answered prayers and belonging. A homeless person who had been sitting near us said, “I believe in miracles.” I turned to him and said, “Oh yeah?”

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The Bearing Witness Chronicles: Fly Like an Eagle

The Bearing Witness Chronicles: Fly Like an Eagle

I was walking down the street one day when I decided that it was time for my life to take off. I looked down and found my arms slowly flapping up and down. A homeless man saw me and began to sing, “Fly like an eagle.”

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A Life Consecrated to Compassion and Justice

On the bleak streets of the Tenderloin, a sister took a stand against inhumanity. Her solidarity was inspired by the beatitudes and consecrated to the poor.

The Invisible Natural Cathedral of People’s Park

Builders, please go away. Allow the beauty of an Invisible Natural Cathedral to remain, a living shrine of open space that gives refuge to all people.

Street Spirit Interview with Sister Bernie Galvin

This atrocity was happening in a very wealthy city. It was happening right under our noses. It was very visible. And there was not the united voice of the faith community speaking out. That was the spark of Religious Witness. From that moment, I knew what I had to do.

Interview with Sister Bernie Galvin, Part Two

“What’s forming in my mind is Jesus in the temple when he became angry at the unjust and very exclusive systems of society. That is the very reason that there are the poor and the marginalized. It is not enough just to provide food, clothing and housing.”

‘Such Is the Magic and Spirit of People’s Park’

The mayor has no understanding of the awful defeat the loss of People’s Park would be. No comprehension of the cost in lives and the sacrifices people have made for the Park’s ideals. So many still find it a refuge in a country needing a political and spiritual overhaul.

I Remember Who I Am

“And Now Where?” Lithograph by Rockwell Kent

By and by, I calm down. I meditate. I pray. It is a beautiful day. The sun is setting. I weave my way toward the spot where I sleep, where nobody knows where to find me. I look to the stars, and say my prayers to the God who believes in Me.