by Katie Delp
The internet went down at the office (again), so I decided to head home to finish up my last few emails of the day. As I stepped outside, I spotted my son walking toward FCS. He was on his way to the South Atlanta Bike Shop for the afternoon and immediately hit me up to buy him a snack at Carver Market.
Inside the market, I ran into the principal of our neighborhood high school, grabbing coffee and greeting several of his students in the store. He recently suffered the loss of his wife and the mother of his young children. My words of sympathy felt inadequate as we embraced.
I am approached moments later by another shopper who tells me her food stamps have run out for the month, and she’s trying to buy dinner for her kids. She asks me to purchase lettuce and cucumbers so they can at least have a vegetable today. Unable to refuse this meager request, I pay for her items and my son’s snacks before I leave the store.
Traveling home, I walk past a neighbor painting a mural on the side of an abandoned building. I stop to admire his work, and we greet one another across the busy intersection. I walk two more blocks to our local towing company. They are donating a trailer to FCS, and I needed to drop off paperwork to them. We exchange pleasantries and pass off our DMV forms.
I return home, and in my driveway, I’m greeted by my littlest next door neighbor who is just learning to walk. His mom and I catch up for a few minutes while he toddles around the yard.
Urban ministry veteran Mary Nelson says ministry in the city is about both agony and ecstasy. Following Christ into the margins of our city means being in close proximity of true need and injustice. Still, this proximity simultaneously invites me to celebrate and rejoice in the daily beauty of life with my neighbors.
It was only thirty minutes of my day. But in short time, I experienced this agony and ecstasy Nelson describes. Sometimes these quick switches make life feel off-kilter and confusing, but on this day, I simply felt grateful.
Grateful for healthy places like Carver Market that bring people together to connect in meaningful ways. Grateful for living in the neighborhood long enough to watch kids grow up into thriving adults giving back to our community. Grateful for the generosity of so many in our neighborhood to pitch in and solve our challenges collectively. Grateful for neighbors who seem like family as we dwell together in South Atlanta. And grateful to experience both the cross and the resurrection in just thirty minutes on the streets of my neighborhood.