The book: Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship by Gregory Boyle is rich in positive ripples of appreciative and affirmative framing. It is respectful, forward-looking, and abundant in love! Gregory Boyle‘s ability to frame the life journey of the people he serves in the “positive” is beyond inspiring!
He works with ex-gang members. He is a Jesuit priest. He is not young and he has not old – he’s experienced. He is a positively piercing voice related to the goodness that can be achieved by “framing” any and all situations in a life affirming fashion.
Gregory Boyle is the founder of Homeboy Industries. He refers to the ex-gang members as “homies”. This book is full of stories of his interactions with homies and the many gifts that he has received by working with ex-gang members over the last three decades.
Here are some short passages from the book.
“Knowing homies has changed my life forever, altered the course of my days, reshaped my heart, and returned me to myself. They have indeed been trustworthy guides. Together we have discovered that we all are diamonds covered with dust. They have taught me not that I am somebody but that I am everybody. And so are they.”
“I don’t empower anyone at Homeboy Industries. But if one loves boundlessly, then folks on the margins become utterly convinced of their own goodness.”
“Homeboy Industries has always been the “already and not yet”. What this place announces to the world is aspirational and not declarative of a fully formed, complete thing.”
“When life throws a knife at us, we can either catch it by then blade or by the handle. We can stare right back at the terrifying darkness of what we’ve been through in our lives and grab it by the handle.”
“We always seem to be faced with this choice: to save the world or savor it. I want to propose that savoring is better, and that when we seek to “save” and “contribute” and “give back” and “rescue” folks and EVEN “make a difference,” then it is all about you . . . . and the worlds stays stuck. The homies are not waiting to be saved. They are ready are.”
“I met a man, an ex-homie, born –again and with the best of intentions, who was now working with gang members. He asked, ‘how do you reach them?’ My response was, ‘For starters, stop trying to reach them.’”
I love that Boyle embraces the complexity of life and living. I totally respect his absolute focus on building honest, caring relationships. This book and Boyle’s previous book, Tattoos on the Heart, are both excellent reads. They celebrate humanity. I find them to be energizing. I recommend them highly.