To fix Detroit, it will take a lot of fixing.
Beyond the broken-down lights, streets, fire, and security systems, morale needs morphing.
But, so does City government need tweaking.
And, to do all this before my Motown's collapse and moral failure, who will lead?
How will it get mended?
It seems citizens pay for a lot of talk and meetings as in other circles, or pyramids, called processes.
Governing worked in the past with well-placed systems of balances, enforcement, and consequences for behaviors that were (are) a detriment to keeping "city hall" moving.
Does it work today?
Defining who Detroit is, and, Church, also, for that matter, would help immensely.
Reminding people of who one is helps roll out the action involved. Too many distractions pull people away from the lone mission. Helping people know, love and serve God, and breaking open the reign of God saw an early Way, of community, work well. Like the "reign of God" Jesus proclaimed. That Bishop Thomas Gumbleton preached to a packed hall in Clinton Township, MI., last Monday. Some, in fact, told him they "acclaimed" him to be the next pope. At 84?
Can one hope with that evergreen virtue, or, strength, for Lent's "springtime" for this once vibrant and bustling City of Detroit that ranked right up there with Chicago, even New York?
Can citizens, and, the faithful also look for a Vatican Spring also that has stirred and turned a cycle of autocratic systems, even regimes, that today seem to solely put out "fires" or, segments and populations who seem to fuel foment or reasonable challenge to ossified postures, proxy and positions?
One wouldn't think so with all the jaw flapping from the lowest to the highest levels.
And, look at how former civic leaders, let alone ecclesiastical prelates who have led, steered supposedly, and have been declared ineffective, even corrupt in some cases.
Kicking the "can" of issues to the emergency manager in Detroit, or, even more unrealistically, the next pope at the Vatican, for that matter makes me wonder longer.
I believe in miracles.
Most of my life, a lot had to be made from a little like the loaves and the fishes, like the water added to the kettle of potato soup that my mother or father made for the nine of us, including some stray friends of my sister's and brother's who didn't know enough to go home when family was gathering to eat.
That leads my thoughts and takes me decades ago down the street with the bus on Van Dyke when my family lined up near Tappan and Lynch Road on Detroit's East Side to be carried to our home church of Saint Thomas the Apostle, miles away.
Twenty-five cents and a nickel for a transfer to ride the DSR, then. Over a buck today months ago on M DOT when I rode the bus on Jefferson Avenue through St. Clair Shores, MI, south from where I reside in Harrison Township, MI., and the St. Clair Park that we dubbed as Metro Beach at 16/Jefferson, a jewel of a park like Detroit's Belle Isle minutes from downtown's business district.
Times have changed.
The bus needs to be replaced, or, at least supplemented by rapid transit. And, the Big Three CEOs need to move over, morph, and finally let this hatch along Woodward, at minimum, for so many students, workers, seniors and others packing a bus whose time has come for a new Spring.
Much like Benedict XVI's legacy of moving over, he said, for younger leadership. Talk about tranparency and humility of recognizing his own physical limitations. Bless him!
Another road for him, another place of prayer, study and writing, but living at the Vatican so close to the next Pontiff, not so sure that's a good idea free of his influence, NOT!
Or, more practically effective, like the "Nuns on the Bus" with Sister Campbell, among others, with the women pressing for mending, morphing and justice, these vowed religious, among others, like the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters, Mercy Sister, and, the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Third Order of Saint Francis, who taught me at Saint Thomas High School in Detroit, pioneer fresh ways that work for change today.
Orphanages, hospitals and schools, among other Christian-based services, stemmed from the heart and soul of these wise women who wait for a place at the table today too!
At St. Mark's Church on Harsen's Island off off M-29 and Twenty-three Mile Road, the other Sunday, after Mass, a mother with her husband and son, asked: "Hey, Father, why aren't the nuns up there?"
"At the altar,?" I shot back.
"Yes," the curious Catholic challenged.
The recognition of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's limited capacity to carry the Petrine Office no longer, merits making of his transparency and candor to retire at 85 a sign of things to come at the conclave of the college of cardinals who meet soon to select a successor to the pastor and professor-like Benedict who led an awesome three-book seminar on Jesus at his weekly audiences, and a triptych on the Jesus of history and Lord of faith, among his virtues of humility, patience, and enduring long suffering steadfastness to lead despite the job's impossible tasks for any singular man or woman of faith.
Enlarging the bus for all, the table for all, the Curia in Motown and the Vatican for all, and, significant leadership roles for all in the spirit of Vatican II and beyond to this modern world is a way to recognize the bold step Benedict took to resign under the weight of the Office.
He has paved the way now in his candor for a larger bus for the entire family, beyond the twenty preceding ecumenical councils from the first one in 325 to the twentieth in 1869 that put out fires!
Vatican II built a fire unlike any previous Council with the universal, global bishops present in 1962-65.
Vatican III will ignite and apply the principles and fruits of that historic council left untried, and so poorly packaged in that era of social change and protest in the 60s. It will enlarge the bus for the entire family's participation.
My Detroit will learn from representatives at the Vatican this March beyond cardinals and curia officials controlling a system waiting, a Church waiting to be born in a new Springtime for all.
The bus needs going down another road, however, with bigger seats and more space, conditioning of the Holy Spirit, and, a revised curial system that will keep Mother Church rolling into the next century, and beyond, with zest and vigor for all!
Starting with the principle of subsidiarity, however, at at Van Dyke and Lynch Road, or, at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament on Woodward in Detroit, where we sang and prayed an awesome holy hour for the pope Thursday, works. (Subsidiarity means making decisions at the lowest level of local church, for example, not sending all the abuse cases to Rome to settle, to illustrate my point).
Local leaders traditionally have led here at home when few Offices at the Vatican existed, and bishops largely communicated with the Chair of Peter.
Let the Church bus begin afresh, anew, attuned and attentive to the signs of these times!
And, roll! (Perhaps rock also!)
Rock and roll.
Some lively liturgies would enliven people to be more free at Mass to sing out, shout praise and be more in adoration of our living God, and each other, a living Church far from a museum, or, monarch-centered, controlled, managed focus. Homilies could be hewed also. Living in the trenches would help.
Like doing more than talking about Detroit's crime, and, sky-high weeds enveloping homes of the elderly in that beleaguered City I love.
Pray and act.
And, live! Don't die, or ossify!
Live the Easter life we recall again, resurrected forever in these feisty bones and being and Body of Christ.
Similar to how John Cardinal Dearden said he felt after the conclusion of the second Vatican Council in '65: "I wanted to throw my mitre (pointed hat) into the air at the closing Mass, but we were too stayed for that!"
Why not throw off those mitres now and get in the bus with the faithful, brothers!
Mend and morph in the mind of Christ who called you.
And, give birth to fire once more, discovering fire for the second time in God's love for all!
I bet Detroit will get in on the bus, then, and follow suit, lock step your lead, fix the broken buses with a new rapid transit system, and, provide security and a quality of life in the example and lifestyle of this Century and beyond that you set with a curial system that works wonders.
Even sings together with the total church family beyond an orchestra at the Detroit Opera House, or, a sing-along at a local parish.
All may even hum a happy tune, for sure, I bet you, my God of life and love! Somewhat like the precise, wise and director-orchestrated video of the Pope Emeritus' flight into the skies Thursday.
There, the inexorable trajectory of the helicopter in front of the background of a majestic and exhausted city, a tired and aging church, and the hypnotic hum of the blades as the lone sound, accompanied by the bells of Rome that tolled the newly Vacant Seat -- for the first time, joyfully!
And, God knows we all need them, no?
Awaiting a new Spring for Lent (Old English word, "lencten," meaning, Springtime) and the Triduum (Highest 3 holy days of the Christian calendar with Easter Season of 50 days, beyond Lent's 40, starting March 31st) that debuts on Holy Thursday, March 28th, at the Mass of the Lord's Supper at the Cathedral Church of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit where all "stops" are pulled in full, active and conscious participation of the whole family present. And, in the hearts of a Church, a People of God reborn in Motown, and more!
And, so much more Holy Ghost hope humming. . .with hymns of happy tunes of saints, sinners, the saintly secluded and excluded anew, like Good Book's Ecclesiastes' every season under the heavens to turn, turn, turn, repent, and morph, and fix a broken body of Christ, an ailing and fractured and fragmented bus with too few wheels with air, yearning for healing, health, and wellness.
We can fix this bruised, broken and tired bus.
Yes, we can, together, family of disciples of Jesus.
Make more room on the bus, or, supplant it with rapid transit, and 21st century ways.