I scan each block as we slowly drive down Lamphere. Though never a pristine place, the desolation is even more pronounced now. Homes have been abandoned and are falling apart before our eyes. We pull up in front of my childhood home, I take a breath and step out onto the sidewalk. And even though my eyes communicate the brokenness of surroundings, my heart is full.
I was my daughter’s age when we moved from the suburbs into the city of Detroit. It was a move in opposite of natural progression of most families. Not exactly on the path of the “American dream.” We went from our cozy, safe spot and into the busy, LOUD, unstable heart of the city. The key to success in this move? Community. It was done with community, into community. And for years, we lived that way. Kids in and out of our house. Weekly spaghetti dinners with other families that moved into the neighborhood. Bible studies, tutoring, mentoring, basketball, outdoor adventures, working out of relationships, staying safe, collisions of culture, risks and rewards, pain and loss, ups and downs, and in the end- a full and rich life in the city of Detroit.
Here I was, momentarily stepping out of my 15 years of life in Lancaster County. I’m back again and standing on the same sidewalk I had played on for years. The house of my childhood has a no trespassing sign nailed on the front. There is a loud hum of a generator, it connects to our old house which no longer has electricity. The elementary school across the street that once brought laughter and voices of children now stands empty. Broken windows give a glimpse of the collapse of a roof and the damage it has brought.
The sun is shining.
There are smiling faces and open arms awaiting our arrival.
The basketball continues to pound the pavement in Wellpring’s backyard, just as his has done for years. And years. And years.
We have entered a steady point of light and it welcomes us wholeheartedly.
We had to opportunity to run the Detroit Free Press Marathon (Half Marathon for some…) this weekend. And though it started with our desire to challenge our own body and minds, it also gave us an opportunity to run for something beyond ourselves. The natural choice was to run in support of Wellspring. And, here we were to celebrate the run and the money raised. There were old friends, new friends, PA friends, family, all here to encourage each other and tell our stories. What a gift it was for me to be a part of that. What a reminder of hope and life among a broken place. Wellspring reminds me of how community is so lifegiving, no matter the surroundings. The community radiates the light.
Back in Lancaster, I long to live a life of community as well. I wonder what life has for me and my family. I so desire for my children to see the power of God shown through people’s love for one another. I wonder how we can work out our own lives in those same ways. I am aware of the different surroundings here but also know that community is just as vital. The view may be different, but the broken places are here as well. Those places don’t just exist in the neighborhood, they exist inside our very selves.
How will we enter into this life together? How will we live life, even in the dark and dilapidated places?
I wish I had more answers and more clarity on how to do this here. But I know one thing, it isn’t something I’m going to do on my own. When we come together that light gets stronger and stronger. This takes a community.