Hope and Perspective

Published in the Michigan Catholic
August, 2013
Paul Stuligross

Hope and Perspective. It’s something we can all use a little of. I thought about that as I read a bumper sticker that said: “I lift Detroit up in prayer.” I grew up in Detroit. My brother and I attended grade school at Christ the King, played baseball with West Seven and spent our summers running between houses, swimming,  and enjoying life. Then I “grew up” and became a police officer in Novi.  Nothing like a job like that to change your perspective. I’m thankful for a time when God helped me get it back.

I was a young detective working on a particularly brutal armed robbery where a female manager was pistol whipped, threatened, and locked in a cooler. The suspect was an ex-employee who lived in a rough part of Detroit. For the next few weeks, my partner and I perused the streets, interviewing, investigating. It didn’t take people long to figure out who we were. And it didn’t take me long to let that cynicism – all too familiar to police officers – to set in. To be honest, it’s understandable in that line of work. I struggled with it – as I know many of my former cohorts did – constantly. Circumstances affect our world view; it’s inevitable.

One day, during this investigation, I returned to the police station in Novi only to realize I had lost my police ID. I recalled having placed my flak vest over my shirt and tie before approaching a house earlier. My neck badge must have fallen off in the street. I panicked, certain that one of those thieves , with which the city was undoubtedly enveloped, had taken it and was, at this very moment, pulling off armed robberies with MY badge. Talk about cynicism; talk about fear. Immediately, I prayed to Saint Anthony; a saint with which I’ve grown familiar. I didn’t think my prayer would be answered.  

Then I received a call from an older, African-American woman. Her son had found my badge in the street and brought it home. I figured it was a “set-up.” No one would have been so honest. Quietly, I told my partner I was headed back to Detroit. I gave him the address and made him swear to tell no one; that if I wasn’t back in an hour, to come looking for me.

I drove to this woman’s house, preparing for the ambush that would inevitably come. When I got there, I edged toward the door and knocked. A voice from inside invited me in. I’m not sure it registered at first, but there was a large cross in the foyer and a bible wide open on a lamp stand beneath it. I looked toward the living room and was greeted by an older woman, heavy-set and bed ridden. She smiled at me. Then she invited me in and proceeded to tell me how much she appreciated the police. She thanked me for my service and told me she thanked God for “people like me” so willing to put ourselves in harm’s way for the good of others. I was dumbfounded, waiting for the punch line. There was none. Instead, she asked me for a hug as her teenage son stood by her side. Then she handed me my badge. I didn’t know what to say. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I’m supposed to be the one to do the saving; yet she “saved” me. I gave her that hug then my heart sank. It sank because I looked at the indigence in which she lived and was embarrassed I could let hopelessness overwhelm me with all I have. She had so little, yet she gave to me.    

As I drove home I got choked up. Perhaps because I recognized God in her, someone that was supposed to see Him in me.  

So, yes, I lift Detroit up in prayer. I pray for the police officers and firefighters who struggle to make sense of what they see. Perhaps that’s why I wrote my novel entitled, The Donkey. It’s a fictional story that chronicles the life of a veteran Free Press Reporter whose years of reporting have chiseled away at any sense of hope he had … Sound familiar? Until he meets Claire Henning, a ninety-nine year old woman who takes him back to her childhood, and an experience she had with a donkey she believes was once ridden by Christ. As Dan immerses himself in Claire’s story, he finds that he’s part of it and that God’s ways are not always ours.

There’s a bit of truth in all fiction. Human nature hasn’t changed in one-hundred years; in fact, two-thousand. The good news is God’s nature hasn’t changed either. And if we take the time to put ourselves in relationship with God, we can find those virtues so often veiled by the shrouds of our own circumstances. 

Perhaps you’ll be inclined to pick up a copy of The Donkey, due for release in mid-August. It’s available at, Barnes and, or Or you can like it on Facebook at: (Mike, check this out to make sure)

A big shout out to my editor, Mr. Stechschulte, who was gracious enough to let me write a bit about it.

Hope and Perspective. If we look for it with God, it won’t be hard to find. 


Patriot Media (publisher)