It has been one heck of a week. I have been trying to follow the contentious happenings at General Conference as my denomination figures out its future together. While that has been happening I have been working with leadership at Centenary United Methodist Church to prepare for some big decisions regarding obtaining plans for some renovation work at the church. Figuring out how to communicate so everyone is operating with accurate information and is on the same page is hard work in large organizations. In the midst of this large scale work swirling around me something tiny but powerful happened t to remind me where I am and where I belong.
Friday night as I was walking up the one block to pick up dinner from my favorite pizza joint I looked up to see one of the Bike Patrol police waving me down. I recognized him as the officer that a couple of my church members and I had met a week earlier over coffee to talk about all that is happening in downtown Winston Salem and how our downtown church could be a helpful partner. He saw me coming and recognized me and we chatted about changes in a business that is right across from where I live. When I walked away I had the biggest grin on my face. I realized that in that moment, for probably the first time in the 10 months since my husband and I moved in to our downtown condo, I felt “home”.
I had connected in a way that made me realize this IS my neighborhood and I am an active and vital member of it. I’m not just someone walking up the street to arrive at a destination. This is where I live. This is were I spend my time. And then I was overwhelmed with this feeling. I may not be able to control the decisions that take place at the global church’s level. I’m probably not able to make everyone happy in the large membership church I am serving (and actually that’s true no matter what size church!). But I do have control over how I live in the space I occupy and the people I interact with. I can have high impact with the people right around me in my day to day living. That I care mightily about this place and we tend to put energy into that which we care about.
This is not a new revelation and certainly something I knew in my head. But now I felt it in my heart. I saw it in motion as I talked with Officer Kevin. And it helped me take a step back from feeling like the world was looming awfully large before me. It was a prompting for me to focus on my neighborhood. Let me focus on loving my neighbors to the best of my ability. That includes all of my neighbors. Even the ones who drive through 4th Street with their music playing deafening loud. Even the neighbors who double park. Or the neighbors who fuss about the talented buskers playing music on the street corner. Or the neighbors who ask me for money.
It also includes those neighbors who recognize me and Greg when we enter the restaurant now and welcome us warmly. And the neighbors who leave a surprise at our door. And the neighbor who lets me in my building when I’ve locked myself out. And the neighbor who generously gives money to those who ask for it or buys them a sandwhich.
Yes, all of this bubbled up from a 5 minute conversation with a police officer. But there is great power in recognizing your “home”. It is the difference between existing and belonging. And although my neighborhood might not look very much like yours it is mine. And I’m going to do my very best to infuse it with God’s love. Because that is something I indeed have the power to do.
Grace and Peace,