Thursday, February 28, 2008

I love this...

At this moment I'm sitting in the student commons at school, and I feel I need to explain how much I love this place. So far this conversation has skipped through: the history of underwear, Bart Simpson's middle name, the current presidential election, Old Testament prophecy, Bret Favre, facial hair, John Wesley, antelope, religion, recessions, urination, and sermon-writing. Anything goes here. We can have serious conversations or we can goof around about almost anything. We gather around tables: people of all ages, races and backgrounds, eating, drinking, talking, studying, doing crossword puzzles, and creating the community I have longed for.

I look around as I sit here and think, "I love these people." These people give me hope for the future of our communities and churches. In 10 years, these people will be the leaders of our churches and non-profit organizations. They'll be transforming lives and spreading the love of Christ in the world. I love it.

In a little over a year, most of us will be leaving. Some of us only have a few months left in this community. I'm going to be very sad to leave this, very sad to see this community disperse into the world beyond. But, as much as I hate to think of us leaving this place, I know that in our departure, we're going out into the world to really make a difference. I believe in this, in these people. As much as I'm frustrated by many things in our church and frightened by the state of our society, these people give me hope. These are people who are passionate about God's word, passionate about bringing the kingdom of God on earth, who have the skills, attitude, and humor to face the problems out there and overcome them. God will work mighty things through these people.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Postcards from the City

I am not from here. I am not from the city, not from the south, not from anywhere like this. So, as a tourist in this strangely familiar place, I write postcards in my head to people far away, people who do not see this place the way I do.

Everyone here wears shades of black and brown and serious. The outfits are always coordinated, but they pretend it's unintentional. It's not. Belts, shoes, accessories, designers, all mismatched to perfection, the epitome of sophistication. Their music is unintelligible: complex sentences set to tones of dulcet discontentment. No harmony is permitted, perhaps because it would be incongruous with the noise filtering in from the street. Minimalist sophisticates, gleaming without warmth.

The skyline glows and shimmers in the twilight. If I squint, I can pretend it is a forest of giant Christmas trees, with lighted branches dancing and winking, flirting with the moon. But when I smooth my features, the lines and rigid shapes return, the trees fade into towers. The buildings stand as stark sentinels, boldly proclaiming modernity and commerce. But they never dance in the breeze.

There's a certain charm to all-night diners. No gourmet here, but heavy sustenance is guaranteed. The late night wait staff is strange, and the customers are even more bizarre. The air is chilled, as though by turning the building into a refrigerator, memories of better days and more acceptable hours could be preserved. But the food is hot, and when everywhere else seems dark and lonely, the flourescent lights of the diner brighten the night.

The city is a perpetual motion machine. There is no lonely silence here. The streets and buildings are always buzzing with action and communication. Interaction never ceases and the air is thick with words and pheromones. The cacophony becomes music, the motion a dance; the city is an all day, all night gala event. Didn't you get an invitation?