two years ago, some of our good friends introduced us to a small over-looked neighborhood in the urban core.
when we pulled up to the community center’s farmers market in ivanhoe, we were greeted with so many friendly people. next to the community center there’s a new playground. the community center sort of feels like a lighthouse to the neighborhood.
we are new at this urban core thing. so we asked what their needs were. if they could use our help. they smiled and said yes. and welcomed us. so we began working in their community gardens. meeting new people each time.
we started learning what it looked like to make rhythmic space in our calendars so we could commit to serving the community center. it felt right to be doing something together with our friends and family outside of ourselves. there is something just really holy and liberating in that. i tend to be obsessed with my own little world if left to my own devices. so in that way, ivanhoe has been so good for my heart. i loved watching emri take initiative with the community center. i would watch her asking if she could help with little things. i watched her smile in pride as she realized her presence somewhere really mattered. and i think we all can identify with that, when we realize that our presence does matter.
that we all play a unique beautiful role. it just feels right doesn’t it?
it feels right because its in our blood. its what we were intended to do. lock shields. hold hands together as we move forward in whatever needs mending and healing around us.
after seasons of being present in this neighborhood we quickly realized that serving the community center can only go so far. what this neighborhood really needs is present people. people that dwell there. who live right there next to them.
i don’t have time to tell you of all the ways Jesus has gently and tenderly cleared the path before us. all the little signs and wonders and prayers. all the kind hearted people. the gathering network and our families that have prayed a thousand prayers over us. the watts who are brave enough to move with us two doors down and all the people who have gone before us. like miss jordanne bonfield. the patricks. the answers and the garrs. for david larabee who is spending his retirement giving his time and money renovating homes in the neighborhood. and the families that have shown us with their lives that this is in fact possible to follow jesus into dark places. dark places that cry out for hope and renewal.
and Jesus turns ashes into beauty. this i know. i’ve seen it all over the place, i’ve seen it in my heart. and in my body. but i also think he finds beauty in our ashes. there is beauty in it all. especially in all that desperately needs Jesus. we were driving through ivanhoe this morning in all the snow. thinking of families that might one day occupy the abandoned homes. we prayed out loud all of us in our van.- we dreamed out loud of new businesses that could exist in the vintage buildings that lay vacant in the cold.
so here is our journey. the waters are parting. we’ve made an offer on a home that we love much.
please don’t misunderstand our journey. i hope this doesn’t make anyone feel as though we think ivanhoe is more noble of a place to live than any other street in any other city. not at all. oh please don’t hear that. this is noble: pray and dream about the things that move you. and then band with friends and family and rally around whatever that is. full tilt.
we can change the world, you and i.