After an uncertain and tumultuous few months, having released one dream and searching for the next, we find ourselves settling in to a new chapter. Releasing the dream hasn’t in any way meant surrendering the vision that caused us to pursue it in the first place. Turns out that, like many attempts at pursing Jesus, it wasn’t failure that we experienced … merely groundwork for something larger than we were previously prepared to imagine. Now our immediate response is to find a new place to live and to live into. More than ever before we have a specific lens that our search filters through.
I’ll begin by admitting that our lens makes practically no sense if you don’t value the same things that we value. While we do try to consider some of the traditional values like cost, convenience, and cosmetics, there are also some intangibles that won’t seem logical for many. No worries, we don’t expect to be understood. Why start now? Many people will search for a suitable place to live. We certainly do that, but we also have a very powerful filter that helps us determine the difference between a good place to live and a good place to live into. Through this lens we don’t always see the most affordable or the most attractive places. Things like neighbors and neighborhoods tend to take on different nuances. Proximity becomes important … as in how close are we to things of convenience … how walkable is the neighborhood … stores, parks, restaurants, coffee shops. Proximity is important to many, however we also add another layer … it’s known as presence … as in how easy will it be for us to live presently and be present in the neighborhood … in the spaces and relationships that open up before us. Can we be good news there? This is where the conversation gets interesting and we get very excited.
Most people in the Seattle area would value a good coffee shop in a convenient proximity to them. Good coffee is seen as a right here. Over our many years of urban life we have lived within walking distance of some of the best coffee in Seattle. I will tell you though that we have learned that its not about the coffee. Bigger than that is the ability to have presence, to build relationships, to be good news, to be about our Fathers business of loving our neighbors. We have been fortunate over the years to have good coffee in our places that we invested. It’s not always been the best though and we never chose those places because of the coffee. We chose them, often before even tasting the coffee, out of a felt sense that we could be home there. One of our favorite hangouts even comes with the disclaimer “we’re good, not great”… but we are family to them and they to us. Because of a commitment to presence we are able to celebrate the victories and mourn the losses with them.
In the 4th Gospel John writes that “the Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood”. We’ve discovered through our experiences that a large percentage of people claiming to be followers of the Word have never moved into their neighborhood. Most are looking for the best … food, stores, neighbors, coffee. It’s the American way. What would happen if more of us would intentionally seek to not merely live in the best place, but to make it the best by living into it. “Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29)