sometimes people ask me what it is we're doing down here.
i think they mean it more like "what are we actually physically doing with our time," rather than the more abstract meaning that implies more of a "why" question. they are both good questions though, and sometimes i ask them myself.
like say, today. i spent most of the afternoon painting part of the outside of the church that is off one of our little roof sections. it's a little hard to describe but it's this little flat roof area our windows open out onto and the exterior walls were in terrible need of a paint job, which pastor asked us to do. so i took advantage of the wonderful weather and went at it. though i was on the roof it was entirely safe--except for trying to navigate my way around i kid you not like 30 wasps. in fact i wasn't able to finish the job because we are out of wasp spray and there is a giant active nest where i need to paint. suddenly i am more thankful for the bats. do bats eat wasps? i think they do. or at least they should.
so i'm up there painting the day away, listening to some music, enjoying the view behind me that looks out west across the ivanhoe neighborhood, umkc, and the plaza. but something was getting to me. something was stirring in me emotionally as my thoughts went to many different places off the mindless task of the roller. it was more than a few words could express, but it was something like a weird sentiment on my life. how is it that this is where i've ended up? what do the last few years mean and how they've passed? what will this time hold for me?
life just seemed so open at the moment, so unattached or disconnected--whichever way you want to spin it. at the moment it seemed more of a burden than a freedom, but that's been more and more rare lately.
and right about then a siren started to chime. and then another. and another. and i looked down off the roof and saw several police cars speeding around our streets. they eventually settled around the church property, with cars at every corner and more. one pulled into our parking lot and searched under our cars. i ran back inside to watch, where i saw a cop pull his gun and check our dumpster for the suspect. then they went south and searched the brush and woods around the area. the helicopter was all around too. they didn't find him.
apparently though they had already found him. twice. they caught him but he managed to break free and keep running, though he lost his shoes. so they caught him again and tased him, but apparently he rolled onto the cop and took his taser and ran off again. way to go kcmo police.
it was a pretty exciting to watch, not really scary though. all the neighbors were outside. i don't know what the guy did.
maybe it's things like this that make other people ask what we're doing down here. why put yourself in the midst of that? and maybe i think that same way sometimes, but usually i think that's exactly why we're down here--because other people live here too. and they have to live with this going on around them a lot. and we've just marginalized them in so many ways. did you watch that video from my last post? seriously. do it.
so then tonight we had our prayer time as per usual on monday nights, and afterwards things were winding down when tyler got home and said our neighbors asked us to help them move. sure, no problem--when? oh right now. ok. nothing like a little moving at 10pm. so we got tyler's truck and took oh maybe five loads down to their new place. fortunately it's only 2 blocks away so we can stay in relationship with this family, as they've been our best relationship in the neighborhood (the same house from the letter posted awhile back).
of course tyler had worked not only the opening shift this morning, but also the closing shift at another store. so when he got home needless to say he was tired--but he was the guy with the truck, and i guess that's what they were waiting for. he's a trooper. we were happy to help, but it was something i overheard that really struck me. one of them said that everyone else they asked wanted them to pay like 100 bucks for the use of their truck. and i just though, "really?" i mean, i guess i understand--no, i really don't. what creates that attitude in people? what makes no one willing to help? being taken advantage of? i don't know.
but it takes me back to the idea of being good neighbors. sure we'll help our neighbors move until 11 at night, because that's loving your neighbor. what do we do down here? well hopefully some of what we do is make ourselves present and available for things like that. what are we doing here? i don't know, what are you doing where you live? ok yeah there's more to it for us than that, but this is something of what it is--helping neighbors move when no one else will. and it's good to have those things, however random and sporadic they may be. in other words i don't think we're going to start some program for late night moving for families getting evicted from their homes.
why are we here? we're here to be here. and maybe right now that's enough because it hasn't seemed to be the case for many others in quite some time. not that we're all that special, which is exactly part of the point. anyone can love, can give the love of Jesus. it's not easy sometimes, but it is a lot easier when you are present and put yourself in the place to do that--wherever you are.
it was also great to hear sharice (the mom of the family) tell us that all the kids kept telling her that wherever they moved just couldn't be too far away from all of us. it's the little things like that that are the big things. and what make me glad that this is where i am, today, this day, and hopefully for many many days to come.