Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Death in the City

Lily Burk was 17 years old and running an errand for her mother at Wilshire and Vermont in central Los Angeles near Southwestern University School of Law on Friday afternoon, July 24.

At 3 pm she was abducted by a paroled man living in a nearby residential drug treatment program.

He told her to get money from an ATM with her credit card--not possible unless one has a PIN number to do that. She made two calls to her parents asking how to do it, learning that the card didn't have ATM functions set up.

By 5 pm she was left dead in her car in downtown Los Angeles.


"A Collision of Two L.A. Worlds" the LA Times headlines calls it.


Lily would have been a senior at Oakwood School, where my daughter Marie's best friend, Suzanne, graduated a few years ago. Suzanne's sister Katie had just shared in chaperoning a group of kids from the school, including Lily, on a visit to Chiapas, Mexico.

Marie was with Katie when she heard the news.

We who inhabit the privileged, wealthy world of Los Angeles think we can live our lives right next to poverty, addiction, and crime without being touched by it.

At least we hope so.

But there are frequent lessons that only by good fortune can our pretty island remain unscarred by the horror around us.

We try to do our part, voting for Obama and universal health care, hoping that the inmates put on the streets by our state's financial disaster will not attack us, hoping that the children turned down by the cuts in the preschool Early Start program will not grow up to drop out of school and turn to drugs or crime.

We are more worried about the collision of these worlds than we were a few days ago.

Until we come face to face with the deepest, darkest fact of life without damaging our view of God's character, we do not yet know Her.
--Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His [sic] Highest. Daily reading for July 29.

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