A Letter from Joe Micon, LUM Executive Director
In our joy, we think we hear a whisper. At first it is too soft. Then only half heard. We listen carefully as it gathers strength. We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now. It is louder. Louder than the explosion of bombs.
It was during the lighting of the National Christmas Tree in 2005 that Dr. Maya Angelou first shared her poem Amazing Peace.
As one of the most renowned and influential voices of our time, Angelou’s words beckon us to contemplate a world of peace during a season of peace. She wrote that, “there is no better time than Christmas to come away from rancor; no better time to look beyond complexion to see community; no better time to mend that which is broken into that which is whole. “
They are powerful words that speak directly to the mission of the Lafayette Urban Ministry. An organization of 47 Greater Lafayette churches, LUM nurtures children and strengthens families who are experiencing difficult times.
During the past year, the Lafayette Urban Ministry served 4,723 families through one or another of our 22 programs.
- The LUM overnight Emergency Shelter continues to serve compassionately the chronically homeless in our community. The LUM shelter and Winter Warming Station will provide shelter and addiction services to more than 900 homeless individuals during 2019.
- Two-hundred and thirty-nine at-risk youth learned and grew because of the LUM 5th Quarter Summer Learning Program, LUM Camp and enhanced After School Program.
- The LUM Good Samaritan Program serves up to twelve families each day – families that are in the throes of eviction, utility disconnects, health care or transportation emergencies. LUM has aided 1,780 families this year.
- The LUM Tax Preparation Program served 522 low-income workers, returning to them $906,000 in tax credits and refunds.
- The LUM Community Thanksgiving Celebration served 900 meals, the LUM ID Clinic served 217 clients, our Immigration Clinic served 173 individuals, and of course Jubilee Christmas – 1,831 children!
- In addition, the Lafayette Urban Ministry started the LUM Protein Food Pantry in 2019. This new and innovative response to persistent food insecurity in our community provides meat, eggs, fresh vegetables, infant formula and baby food to children and families in need. More than 50 families are served each week.
In her poem, Maya Angelou interprets peace as a harmony of spirit and a comfort of courtesies. She defines it as security for our beloveds and their beloveds. She calls Christmas the halting of hate time.
In the spirit of peace this Christmas season, I hope that you will support the important work of LUM with a gift of cash. Your contribution of $50, $100, $250, $500, or $1,000 will be used to support needy children and their families, right here in our own community.
I share below Dr. Maya Angelou’s Christmas poem, Amazing Peace, in appreciation of the kindness you have always shown toward those LUM serves. On behalf of each child and family, please accept my heartfelt thanks and my wish for a joyous Christmas.
Amazing Peace by Dr. Maya Angelou
Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Flood waters await in our avenues.
Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche
Over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and grey and threatening.
We question ourselves.
What have we done to so affront nature?
We interrogate and worry God.
Are you there? Are you there really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?
Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.
It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly
in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.
Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening all things,
Even hate which crouches breeding in dark corridors.
In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now. It is louder.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.
We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.
We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you, to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.
It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.
On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.
At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues the coming of hope.
All the earth’s tribes loosen their voices
To celebrate the promise of Peace.
We, Angels and Mortal’s, Believers and Non-Believers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.
Peace, My Brother. Peace, My Sister. Peace, My Soul.