Speedy’s Good Life

by Jim Manney

As I get ready for Thanksgiving Day I’m thinking of Speedy, “a thrill seeker in the world of project gangbanging,” as the Jesuit Greg Boyle describes him in his terrific book Tattoos on the Heart.  Speedy hailed from a broken family, left the gangs, worked his way out of the projects, and made a life.

One day, Speedy tells Greg about how he encourages his three children to read. They go to Barnes & Noble after Mass every Sunday and read for two hours.  “They be havin’ comfortable chairs at Barnes & Noble,” he says.  Then Speedy chokes up, talking about how proud he is, watching his children read.  “You’ve got a good life,” Greg tells him, and Speedy’s tears flow.

So I think of Speedy, whom I don’t know, and many people I do know, who have overcome terrible obstacles to have good lives.  They are the people Natalie Merchant sings about in “Life Is Sweet.”  (Full lyrics here.   If you can’t see the video, click here.)

They told you life is hard

Misery from the start, it’s dull

It’s slow, it’s painful

But I tell you life is sweet

In spite of the misery

There’s so much more, be grateful

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Jim Manney

Senior Editor at Loyola Press
Jim Manney is a popular writer on Ignatian topics (God Finds Us, A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer) as well as the editor of many books on Ignatian spirituality, including What Is Ignatian Spirituality? He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Latest posts by Jim Manney (see all)

November 24, 2010

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