Speedy’s Good Life

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


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here