Thursday, July 02, 2009

How Do You Go the Distance in Daily Urban Life?

I snuck into the office early this morning to grab a few things and to check on a room set-up before my house and the neighborhood woke up. The only person out on MacArthur Blvd. was this public works guy who was painting the new bike lane on the street in front of the church. I paused for a moment, taking in his perseverance. He followed a traced line, with his head down to make sure he stayed between the lines, and occasionally looking up to ensure he knew where he was going. I was struck by the simplicity of the scene and the deep existential challenge/truth that it holds for us that call Oakland home, or who live in urban zones.

It's so easy to give up, to get negative, to get apathetic and to eventually become pathetic - a constant pessimist, low-expectation-holder, someone who retreats into themselves in order to self-protect, self-medicate or self-dedicate. In reading the paper this morning I was inundated with hopelessness: deaths, destruction, a family swept out to sea and then [this] about the current and unavoidable future budget implosion in Oakland. It's so easy to give up, or to want to avoid. I ran into the resident street philosopher of my hood - Corn Dog, aka Crazy57Bus - who in our musings asked why people want to avoid or deny that there is danger and destruction out there? How come we don't talk about murders in our neighborhood - not in the intent to dwell on them - but to ensure, encourage and challenge each other to be safe and to be radical in our mutual solidarity? C57B brought up that we jump on people as 'negative' when in fact they're simply stating the obvious - that we shouldn't forget and that we should look through and past. It's a lot like that street painter...focused on the little lines in front of him, with his head down - but he knows where he's going - that there is a bigger picture - a wider perspective and goal then simply painting a line.

I'm preparing a sermon for Sunday on radical discipleship in Mark 6:1-13 - in fact Jesus seems to tell his listeners who follow him to expect rejection. Hmmm. Maybe Martin Luther King Jr. said it best: "Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."

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