Dearest of Friends,
It is one of the most difficult tasks that befall those called to pastor God’s people that along with the good news of God’s triumph over death through Christ we must also bear the sad news of the passing of those we love so dearly. And so it is today, as I share the difficult tidings that our beloved friend and sister, Lynda Joyce Baker, has died.
As many of you may already know, Lynda had just recently moved into a home she could finally call her own–a creative “wooden tent” built by our friends the Mad Housers, and located up in the woods off Custer Avenue, close to Moreland. It is not unusual to not hear from Lynda, especially when she believes things are going well for her or the first of the month arrives. But Sunday had been a week since we had seen Lynda and today a week since we had heard she was out and about. Despite repeated attempts to catch her at home by different folks, we still hadn’t laid eyes on her. And so it was that today, after Mercy had closed, that I went traipsing once again through the fields and woods to find her.
I did, of course. We can all take comfort in the fact that it appears she died peacefully in her sleep, apparently of natural causes. There were no signs of trauma. While we still don’t know how long she had been deceased, it seems very obvious that it had not been very long at all. And perhaps most importantly of all, she passed from this life to another and better home having at long last found one she was pleased to call her own on this earth. She was hoping to arrange a blessing for that little wooden hut. After the medical examiner had come and gone, I made the sign of the cross over it and blessed it in the name of the Homeless Christ and in hope of housing for all of us.
We will be working with the Medical Examiner to try and locate family and to figure out final arrangements for her body. We are required both morally and legally to make every effort to contact next of kin, of course. When that process has concluded, rest assured that we will let all of you know when a memorial service for Lynda will take place.
Along with Pastor Maggie, I send all of you our love and prayers and hope.
Peace and Good,
The Homeless Psalm
Lynda Joyce Baker, 2010
The System is my shepherd,
I lack everything that I need.
The System makes me to lie down
On the concrete.
The System tells me I’m not good enough
For its water.
The System slowly destroys my soul.
Yea, though I daily walk through the System’s wastelands,
The System still tries to destroy me.
Their constant hounding and no sleep
Do not comfort me.
The System doesn’t do anything for me,
My cup is surely dry.
Surely hatred and intolerance shall follow me
All the days of my life in the System.
And I shall dwell in the house of lack forever.
As Lynda wrote this beautiful Psalm, which we use in reflection every time a group visits our beloved community, she would be most restless if I did not offer a disclaimer. Lynda’s world was by no means dominated by “the System.” Though she daily struggled with what she was (or was not) offered, and her health suffered for it, Lynda believed most strongly and joyfully in God who cared for her. The system never had a final say in her life. This Psalm, which I strongly believe had a basis in her life and which she strongly believed was delivered to her by God one day while she was idly reading other material, has proven to be one our greatest teaching tools at Mercy. No youth will pass through Mercy’s doors without wrestling with this Homeless Psalm, Psalm 23,and finally creating a hopeful psalm of christian community where the system meets God’s grace and our empowerment. Thanks be to God for the life of Lynda Baker.
with love and peace,