Late in the afternoon, while the kids hang from the trees and the Man cleans up the bathroom we’ve never committed to renovate, I grab the camera and sneak out to south Rocky Mount to find the pretty in the gritty. It’s hot out, but I roll down the windows anyway. The places I’m headed don’t open themselves up to sightseers and today, I’m a sightseer.
I walk the line between my life and their life and this line I walk is thin and brittle as spun sugar, but it’s familiar to me so I walk it.
The radio is loud in the car and the volume rattles my chest in a way that summons up that sliver of bravery that likes to settle along the bottom of my gut. Music is the art that speaks to my soul and the art it speaks today is the one that sets my soul ablaze in justice and mercy.
And justice and mercy don’t come easy to this black and white thinker, this woman who’s accustomed to pull up your boot straps and get ‘er done theology. I turn the music up louder and louder until my poor thinking is sitting underneath that sliver of bravery and I squint my eyes to see what Jesus sees in this place I used to call my Ninevah.
I drive slow and steady down the streets that seem to bear no name and I count the steeples and makeshift marques that stake a claim for Jesus. There is one church for every ten shacks, ten apartments, ten shotgun style homes, ten boarded-up, broken down houses, and I swallow hard with the hopelessness of it all.
There is no traffic.
No people walking about or boys dribbling basketballs up and down the street.
With the windows rolled down, I can hear everything and there is nothing to hear. Just dead space and heavy humidity.
I drive up and down and then make the same loop, three times, trying to catch the light just right on my favorite steeple, but with each snap of the shutter I catch only shadows.
And the shadows I catch only serve to drive home the harsh reality of poverty that is seeping into my bones. I fight back the feeling that any sack of groceries or cup of cool water I serve is just a drop in the bucket of an ocean full of need.
My bones ache.
My mouth is dry.
And I drive around for more than hour before I give up and drive home to Avent.
Tonight, the Man and I do business about our business here. We talk a circle around the church and the neighborhood, MOPS and IF, the blog and school. We hash out the pros and cons and the callings and the want-to-do’s. The more we talk, the less sense we make, and after a few hours, we retreat into our books.
Sometimes, there is no talking sense into things that seem to make no sense. And today, Jesus makes no sense.
“What is your fondest memory of us?” I ask him when the house is quiet. It’s my stab at righting our world and us, the me and him, we make sense.
At least in my mind, we make sense.
And tonight, that is enough.
This is my small offering to Lisha’s community of grace-filled writers. It is not meant to be a Debbie-downer piece as much as it is meant to stand alone as a reminder that we’re not meant to fix this world. We’re meant to live in it, as people filled up with Jesus. Following Jesus makes no good sense at all, but I’d rather wade through this messed up life with Him, than muddle through it without Him. Amen?