Home in the City

by admin on

I just put a well-seasoned oak log on the fire and have settled back into my favorite chair. Peggy just brought me a steaming cup of tea to warm my insides on this cold January night. The busy holiday season is past, my goals are set for the new year and I have decided to indulge myself in the pleasure of a bit of reflection. It is good to be home. Not just in another house. But home. Pulling up stakes, as we have every few years, has taken its toll - especially on Peggy. Our decision a year ago to put down roots back on Walker Avenue (the mixed income neighborhood we helped to rebuild) has proven to be right in so many ways. Peggy, who is by nature a nester, extracted a promise from me as we were constructing this home. "Promise me that this will be our last move until they put us into 'the home'." The weary look in her eyes told me how important this commitment was to her.

I am finding that there is something very good about rootedness. Novel discovery for a preacher's kid for whom moving has been a way of life. I was surprised by joy this autumn as the shade tree we planted turn bright crimson. I found unexpected satisfaction in the simple pleasure of bedding young plants with a blanket of mulched leaves for their winter sleep.

I think that permanency must be a deep desire of the soul. Deeper far than adventure-thirst and wander-lust. Whether displaced by eviction or dislocated by opportunity, there is an unrest in our spirits until we find a secure place to call home. We seem to have an innate, compelling drive to establish roots, even when the soil is rocky. I see it happening with homeless families who move into our interim apartments. The drive to reestablish stability is both powerful and persistent.

Rootedness must have intrinsic value. Perhaps it is a function of turning 50 {as I did this past year) but I am finding something remarkably satisfying about enjoying the shade from a tree I planted. In a highly mobile society where neighbors are transitory and homes are commodities to be traded, I am beginning to see just how gracious is God's gift of stable community for His people. I am privileged to enjoy the benefits of this gift in caring neighbors who look after each others' children and who come to each other's aid in times of sickness or need. In the midst of a high-crime environment I feel the security of neighbors who are committed to keeping our street safe. I know why there is such low turnover of homes in this neighborhood - people are tasting of the grace of community.

Our world churns with massive global migration. Nations are breaking apart. Overnight entire cultures are turned into wandering bands of refugees. Huge city-states are emerging like giant magnets that draw the diverse peoples of the globe into chaotic proximity. Displacement is epidemic. And an intense yearning for home burns in the souls of the scattered people of earth.

Centuries ago the prophet Isaiah caught a glimpse of God's promised design for the security of His people. For the dispersed people of Israel as well as the displaced ones of our day, the promise speaks hope to the human spirit:

"They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands." (Is 65:21-22)

Could it be that the God of history is preparing us for residency in the city into which He will gather the faithful from every tribe, nation and tongue? Is global urbanization His invitation to learn how to rightly function in our cities in order to equip us to reign in the City of our God?

Enough of my eschatological musings. For now I will savor the special grace of this moment - a crackling oak fire and another cup of tea. And the joy of seeing a contented smile on Peggy's face.

No Comments