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What Can We Say?

Updated: Mar 2, 2020

A poem comprised of words from Servant Partners interns in Vancouver, and compiled by longtime Vancouver resident and writer James Witwicki

New plant growth in a decaying piano
New growth in a decaying piano

Often, when folks near and dear to us are suffering, or are in transition, we find ourselves at a loss for words. We don't know what to say. The following is a contributed word poem with words taken from my interviews with former Servant Partners interns, some of whom are on staff at the Vancouver site, some of whom still live in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver (DTES), and the rest.


What can we say?

What is broken in relationship

must be mended in


I keep coming back to that.

Here I feel automatically that

I don't have to put my

guard up. I can show

my brokenness, my weaknesses

and all my fears to the people here

who are

able to

do this for me.

What have we seen?

When I expected to find lethargy

in this inner city neighbourhood

I found vibrancy instead.

We see compassion in these kids

and youth, in their approach

to each other.

They're learning to resolve things

to reconcile.


in the way the youths


and interact

with each other.

What have we learned?

Mostly university grads (even me!), we

learned that you are to maintain

a façade, that you have

to seem competent.

In the DTES I don't need to pretend

to be someone else

I can show my true self.

It is more true to myself

to let down the façade


let people see

my brokenness.

What have we missed?

I didn't have those thing

in my childhood...


cheerful acceptance...forgiveness

I've been just slowly


what it means

to fall down, get up,

fall down in front of


What have we found?

We give space and set boundaries.

We find freedom

in weakness

in abundance

in fruitfulness...

And now we hope.

Many in this neighbourhood

need to be encouraged

to reach out

and build relationships and build

community. And they do!

We find ways

to repair brokenness

in our own families.

And now we're thankful.

We’ve eagerly empowered

each other and

our neighbours.

There is a tension here between a present God and

present suffering.

Kingdom communities here do

bear fruit.

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