Mary Schmich in her Chicago Tribune column today writes of William Walker and the community street mural movement.

Walker was found Monday evening in his South Side Chicago public housing high-rise.  He died as he mostly lived, alone.

In big American cities like Chicago most of us go unnoticed.  So many people, urban populations so dense.  It can overwhelm a person.  We search for the needed quiet places, allowing for the dignity of private space and time.  We find ways to be anonymous and alone.  Some of us then discover there is a fine line between aloneness and loneliness.   Some even lose their way, alone in a dark alley of human experience.

Cities need their artists, people like Walker and others.  They look and see, find meaning, and share a vision of the human experience. Creative work, such as art, helps us find what it means to be human in the city.  Helps us find community in the city.  Music, buildings, thoughtful green spaces, a good meal.  A finely built and well placed park bench.  Art creates space and time for when we need to be alone, and for when we are lonely.  The creation of good things for humans comes from an old tradition (Genesis 1).

“Family is the greatest thing in the world … whoever befriends you, that’s your family.  Whoever is kind and considerate to you, that’s your brother and sister, that’s your family.”  Walker’s words sound familiar, cause us to stop and remember just where we heard something like them.

Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?  And pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!  For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.  (Gospel of Matthew 12:48-50)

 Here’s a gallery of William Walker’s murals.