“One, know all their names by tomorrow. Two, it’s more important that they know you than that they know what ya know.” Greg Boyle, the author of Tattoos on the Heart, received this advice from a seasoned teacher on his first day teaching high school. Since then he’s founded Homeboy Industries and has been working with Los Angeles gang members over 25 years.
His stories reflect the nourishing of relationships, especially those affected by guilt and shame from countless experiences of darkness and distress. For many, guilt and shame leave an impression on the soul and stifles the ability to love – to love one self and others - resulting in an inability to live. Fr Boyle says, “guilt, of course, is feeling bad about one’s actions, but shame is feeling bad about oneself. Failure, embarrassment, weakness, overwhelming worthlessness, and feeling disgracefully “less than” – all permeating the marrow of the soul.”
Fr Boyle’s relational approach is about consistently showing up, listening, sharing, and much less about exhibiting what he knows is best. To be mindfully present, especially with those in need, can open people up to a deeper level of vulnerability that opens the door to healing and feeling connected. James Finley says, “when we risk sharing what hurts the most in the presence of someone who will not invade us or abandon us, we unexpectedly come upon within ourselves, the pearl of great price, the invincible preciousness of our self in our fragility.”
May we all take some risks in moments that provide an opening to share a bit more of ourselves and to be there for others.