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Tagging our Streets with Faith, Hope, and Love

May 24, 2012

I love our neighborhood. Our neighborhood is loud and it can be pretty dirty. We have our fair share (and maybe part of your neighborhood’s fair share) of nefarious activity on our block, but I love our neighborhood and am grateful we’ve had three years to live, move, and breathe the life of our neighborhood.

Tagging is nothing new on our street. We’re in urban Los Angeles, and gangs are a bit of a reality for this city and our neighborhood. But lately I’ve noticed an increase in the frequency our street gets tagged by the local gang.

Seeing tags, signs, and evidence meant to propagate a particularly narrow and often violent vision of community and neighborhood – designed to establish boundaries and exclude others – is a good reminder:

  • that we are called to pray
  • that we are called to be a “contrast community”
  • that we are called to live a new kind of reality in our neighborhood and with our neighbors

It’s a reminder that we’re called to tag our neighborhood and our streets with faith, hope, and love.

So, in light of messy, violent, and gang-tagged streets in need of restoration and renewal, here’s a riff on one of Saint Francis’s prayers:

Where there is hatred, let us sow love.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.

Where there is intimidation, let us sow welcome.
Where there is fear, courage.
Where there is crime, peace.
Where there is selfishness, generosity.
Where there is struggle, reconciliation.
Where there is exclusion, embrace.

Where there is tagged violence, hatred, and fear, let us tag faith, hope, and love.

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