In college I took a writing for media class in which we wrote and produced audio pieces. I can still hear in my mind the voice of one of my classmates opening and closing a piece about her neighborhood: “My name is Christine. I live in a neighborhood.”
My name is Wendy, and I live in someone else’s neighborhood. I sit on this porch that is not mine and watch someone else’s community go by. For I am in the neighborhood but not of it, feeling its heartbeat but not part of its lifeblood, present but not incarnate.
I thought I would–wanted to–feel more connected than I do, living here this summer, but it feels like we are not here long enough. Or perhaps I’m not present enough, emotionally. I find myself alternating between wanting to go home, where my things are my things and my neighbors are my neighbors, and wanting to grasp our own little piece of soil our roots can dig down into. Really dig. Not play-dig.
Our pastor talked a couple weeks ago in his sermon about how he is a country boy planted in the city for God’s purposes, and he was very convincing–boy, the country sounds great! Let’s go there! I’m a country girl myself. But I don’t know if I’m ever going back. An urban setting is probably a better fit for Aaron, for us.
So can I do it? Can I be a neighborhood girl? A shared-fences, street parking, locked doors girl? A car stereos and sirens, sidewalks and strangers girl?
We are getting to the point of dreaming and scheming for what comes next year when seminary is done, not only as far as what kind of job Aaron might take but also on the assumption (based on the currently-sucky job market even for pastors) that we’ll have some in-between time before that. It makes no sense to stay in Tuliptown, so we’ll likely look to rent in GR.
Do we come back here by the church?
Would we stay here, or someplace very like it, for the long haul if possible, if called?
Could we go someplace “worse”? Could we be satisfied someplace “better”–someplace more comfortable–too comfortable?
Can I buy a house that won’t appreciate in a district everyone who can is fleeing–and handle it when no one understands why?
For seven weeks we’ve been playing “If we lived here…” both for the fun of imaginary home ownership and the spiritual exercise of imagining. We’re learning the discipline of dreaming aright, the work of turning “What if we…?” into “What if God calls us to…?”
Could God be calling us someplace like this?
If he is, I think we have learned, our answer must be yes.
My name is Wendy. I’m looking for my neighborhood.
Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations. . . .
The length of our days is seventy years—
or eighty, if we have the strength. . . .
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom. . . .
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. . . .
May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.