The weekend’s days had unraveled before they had begun and on Sunday, after we had packed and stacked the church, we swam the day away, leaving all the loose threads in the yard.
I’d been praying for wide open spaces of white and in my mind, Sunday afternoon was colored in the brightest shades of white.
And in my heart, those unraveled threads could lay there ’til Jesus came back.
We swam until our shoulders were pink with sun and our toes were wrinkly like raisins and when it was over, we packed and stacked the car to come home to the threads.
I grilled burgers while the kids changed into dry clothes and with all the wets parts of us longing to be dry, we carried our paper plates of burgers to the porch to soak up the last minutes of sun.
The street was quiet for a Sunday and in our neighborhood, quiet is the background music to the inner rumblings of all things loud not yet passed.
So I slumped down to the steps and listened to the quiet,
And all the inside parts of me folded right up.
On Monday, I made tacos al pastor for our Italian intern and he ate 2, with guacamole, and I nearly burst with joy for the love of all things Mexican and all things Italian.
He chatted about his French girlfriend and then he rolled his story into tales about his seminary friend from Korea and in the midst of his steady stream of words, I forgot that we were in dirty south America, on Avent street where life rumbles loud with quiet noise.
And the forgetting was nice.
After dinner, I cleared the table while the Man and his intern pulled out all the church things. It was nearly 8 before I’d put everything away.
The air was cool and the fireflies flickered in small bursts of light so the kids and I retreated to the porch to talk about nothing important and everything important, all at the same time.
Until the screaming started 2 doors down and the sirens blared and we stopped talking and starting listening.
And when all was quiet again, I sent the kids inside.
“I ain’t ever seen it as bad as this,” he said. “I just live here and try and mind my own business.”
A man, 6 doors down who has lived in this neighborhood for 13 years and someone I met about a year ago on a meet-my-neighbors walk, had meandered up the street and he stood in front of the house.
I walked down to meet him there.
“Them kids have jacked my car one too many times and now look at that. Something bad has happened in that house,” he said.
We stood in the middle of the street and watched the lights whirl, not saying much at all.
And in the quiet, I let his words rest on the inside parts of me that were being to unfold.
This morning, I wonder what to do with all the things unfolding inside of me.
I wonder what it looks like to love my neighbor. Really love them.
I wonder what it looks like to lay down on the front lawn of another and stick my nose in all areas of their business, not because I’m nosy, but because love won’t let me mind my own business.
I wonder what it looks like to be so offensive with the love of Jesus that girls don’t wind up on stretchers in the early evening hours.
I wonder what it looks like to see people like Jesus sees people, not only what they do on the outside, but who they are on the inside.
I wonder what it looks like to be so bound up in Jesus that abiding is the natural rhythm of life.
And I wonder what it looks like to say yes to the deep waters, knowing I will gasp for air and that the only breath that can save me is Jesus.
The practice of wearing skin is so obvious that almost no one engages it as spiritual practice, yet here is a place to begin; with tears, aches, moans, gooseflesh, heat. The body knows-not just the individual body, but the cathedral we make when we bend our bodies together over one as good as dead. Doing that, we act out the one thing we know for sure: it is God’s will that these bones live.
Barbara Brown Taylor
*I quietly ask that you refrain from asking me all the things you want to know about the events of the last few days. I’ve simply run out of words trying to make sense of the things I do not understand. Thank you for your concerns for our family and for our neighborhood- I love you for the all the ways you care – but at this time, I simply ask that you fall on your face before Jesus and beg Him to manifest Himself in our neighborhood by way of believers who will choose to give up the pretty life for the gritty life and live for the sake of the Gospel in our neighborhood.
And while you’re praying, may you ask Jesus to send you.