“I go to the margins because that’s where the joy is.” –Father Gregory Boyle, in an interview on Nomad Podcast
I have loved reading and listening to Father Greg Boyle over the course of the past few years. His books, Tattoos on the Heart and Barking to the Choir, are both excellent, winsome, accessible narratives about decades of serving as a priest in an impoverished neighborhood in Los Angeles. Father Greg’s experiences among gang members of Los Angeles carries a very strange resonance for me because it parallels my experiences with our daughter Penny, who has Down syndrome, and among people with intellectual disabilities (ID).
While at first I saw people with ID as “other”, and as people in need of my help, in time I came to understand that although there were real differences and although there were some things I might be able to offer, the beauty of my relationships was in the understanding of our common humanity, our mutual need, and the ways we could, in Father Greg’s words, “return each other to ourselves.”
Father Greg hasn’t come out with a new book, but I was reminded of his work because of an interview on Nomad Podcast in which he reflects on his 35 years in Los Angeles. He tells lots of stories and offers many words of wisdom. The one that has stayed with me is when he was reflecting on a woman who asked him, “Do you bring gang members to Christ?” He said, “No. They bring me to Christ.”
I also discuss and recommend Father Boyle’s books here.