Thursday, July 24, 2014

Faith Like A Kid

We're coming up on two years here in the 'hood we love.

A few of the crumbling houses are ancient history now, long gone, bulldozed over and hauled away.
A few more slide deeper into ruin, the sheet-covered windows telling stories and keeping secrets.

Brick by brick, our block is breathing new life, life composed of giggles and the whir of bicycle spokes.

Across the street a For Sale sign hangs. I'm praying for the future owners, that they would find a true home here, just as we have.

I pray we welcome them well, but that's easier said that done when I fall so easily into old grooves, looking in rather than out. I keep my mouth shut, muzzled by a strange shyness, deciding my efforts make them uncomfortable when really I'm the one with sweaty palms.

I know God is in this.

I know He called us here, and though 90% of His reasons were to save us, that left-over 10 taps my conscience. It raps and knocks and stares me down. There's work to do here. Not the work born of obligation or pity, but the kind that believes in its bones that everyone needs company, everyone needs a champion, a friend, a neighbor in the truest sense. We all need Jesus. He's all there ever was, the only thing that ever mattered, and He comes to life in the everydayness of ordinary love.

This love changed me. Why does it feel so sticky in my hands?

I know the beauty of surrender. I've seen it up close, smelled its freedom.
Two years is a speck when aligned against eternity and I can't help hoping we're here for a good long while, that we stay put, even when the buzz dies down and the skies stay blue. 

There's "hard" and there's "easy" and I jumble them up. I tear the corners and pull their middles until nothing makes sense. I wonder and scheme then fall into bed like a stone, my heart cast on a plan I can only trace in patches.

It's dusk outside, the kids have been pulled in hard, against all the sweaty will of their collective years. "But it's light out," they say. "The neighbors are still out." I've never heard a more compelling argument. But we have tomorrow. And the day after that.

Their breathing steadies, settling in to the last phase of our day as light spills and filters and moves its hips.

A knock on the door, and I roll my eyes at every kid in this neighborhood who lacks boundaries and bedtimes.

It's not who I expected.

They're in shorts, they're shy. I have never seen them before.
He carries a familiar box, she does all the talking.

"Do you have kids here? We brought cookies if they want one."

Three cellophane-wrapped Oatmeal Cream Pies pass from their hands to mine.

"We had extra," they say. "We just wanted to share."

They run to the next house, and then to the next, like it's just that easy.

This is everyday Jesus, wearing the skin of a blue-eyed third-grader.

This is the simple, profound love that saves us.

** If you're at all interested in community living and blooming where you're planted, I highly recommend Slow Church (Smith & Pattison). I'm not even half-way through but this book is blowing my mind and affirming all my hunches.

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