The Gift of Interruptions and Homelessness


We post below the latest musings from Christine Havens on last month’s Parable, The Front Porch’s Pub Church at Scholz Garten.

foundation communitiesADVENT, INTERRUPTED.  Don’t we love it when things come together? Maybe I should better say full circle, or come back around, though I really do not speak of an ending. Maybe a spiral works as a more apt image, but no, that’s not quite right either. I doodle spirals on a page, admiring how smoothly the line flows—I can draw one with no glaring hiccups, no lifting of the pencil off the page, as long as I’m not interrupted. And that’s the key, isn’t it? Do you envy the flow of a spiral on the page? Do you hope for a day or a life similar to that lovely, gently circling line on the paper?

You may find yourself instead having a less than smooth day, as in the story Fr. Steve Kinney told as introduction to Parable on December 14—he’d had an upheaval-ous day of sorts when unexpectedly having to help his daughter, who herself was suffering from the interruption of a feral cat bite. “The whole day was shot,” for both of them. No smooth spiral day; instead, an engendering of frustration.

And all I could do was smile, as Steve spoke of interruptions “as God’s way of getting in” and as he “invited us to be interrupted” with each other in the Parable space. His words took me back to my time as a parish secretary, which was my first true experience of church, Episcopal or otherwise—the beginning of an important stage in my life. My boss, Fr. Mitch, had developed a “theology of interruption” because of all the, well, interruptions in parish office life—rarely did we have an easily drawn spiral day. Mitch’s thought was that most of these breaks, disruptions, stoppages, intervals were Spirit-driven.

Steve’s story serves as an example of a big interruption, but what of those smaller interruptions? What about our drives around Austin—we’re on the way to work or home from work, or off to the mall or running errands and we just want a smooth spiral or circuit or circle. We had a good day and we want to keep that feeling of success or accomplishment. And then—we’re idling at a stoplight, listening to music that we’re enjoying, and a homeless person breaks into our consciousness, standing at the corner with a brown cardboard sign, or even worse, heading over with a squeegee to wash our car window whether we want them to or not—jolting us into frustration quite frequently or shame or sorrow or pity or desire to help. Whatever the feeling provoked, we’ve been interrupted.

Our guest this evening—midway through Advent—was Walter Moreau of the Austin nonprofit, Foundation Communities, the most lauded affordable housing in the country, as John Burnett said as he introduced Walter. The newly built Capital Studios on 11th & Trinity is the first affordable housing in downtown Austin in 45 years! In a city, where sometimes 4,000 “rough sleepers,” to use the British euphemism (the British also gave us the euphemisms “white meat” and “dark meat” as the Victorians couldn’t use “breast” or “leg” to even describe food), are living their interrupted lives, the Foundation Communities serves as a stepping stone for many. Walter brought Leslie Davis, a single mother, who broke into our lives and hearts with her experience in life and how Foundation Communities is helping her with the big interruption in her life—her husband, a drug dealer, whose murder left her homeless.

I could spiral on and on, talking of the evening, but I need to break in on my musings. I am way past my deadline. . .

Just one last thought: perhaps it’s that our lives are really a series of interruptions—dots on a page, so closely placed together that they’re indiscernible as anything but a line as we journey. Just sometimes the Holy Spirit breaks through and things come together.

Austin Music Scene with John Pointer & HAAM


The Front Porch is pleased to kick off the Sunday Night Stage series at the Victory Grill
with musical acrobat John Pointer and friends on September 30th from
8-9:30 pm.  We’ll talk about the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM), the
state of music in Austin, and anything else that comes up.  He’s got a
lot of perspective! He will get us talking with some interesting ideas on how to better cultivate
the live music scene in Austin and work with the musicians who make
it hum.  Of course, we’ll also enjoy some great music.

Just back from an international tour, which included Sri Lanka and Rio
de Janeiro, Pointer has established his reputation as an artist who
makes even the most experimental music totally accessible to anyone.
A member of the Cirque du Soleil talent pool, he is an internationally
renowned human beatbox and vocalist.  In his solo show he combines
that with acoustic guitar, cello, piano and stomping to create an
organic wall of sound—truly a one-man orchestra.  While his performance can
be difficult to explain, it is easy to enjoy.  Pointer has performed
in every venue in Austin from Hole in the Wall to Bass Concert Hall,
has made several appearances at SXSW and has won ten Austin Music

But after all the talk, it’s really best to just watch what he does: