Thursday, February 12, 2015

WALKING EPIPHANY on the banks of the Chattahoochee: neighborhood notes from Erin Ware

Welcome to a special Epiphany series of guest posts.  I've asked a few friends who live (literally) around the world to take a walk through their neighborhoods and share some of what they see through photos, videos and words.  Each one has selected from a variety of thoughtful prompts to consider the ways the Light has moved into their neighborhoods.  Will you join us?

Erin Humphries
Atlanta, GA
(on the banks of the Chattahoochee River)

My husband and I were married last April. We had gone through several levels of hell in the season before our wedding, and that is why we chose to live where we live.

It’s an apartment complex, and there is really nothing very special about the apartments themselves. What drew us to the place was where the apartments sit. They’re right on the Chattahoochee River in the middle of miles of hiking trails on either side of us, and we’re within the city limits of Atlanta.

One of the first things I noticed about this place was the peace that the river provided every time I came. There is a coffee shop attached to the leasing office, so people can come to our river park even if they don’t live here. I loved that before I was a resident. To be honest, now I kind of resent it. All of our visitors leave little room for us “legal citizens.” But, the truth is that it is a blessing to live in a place so beautiful that visitors often crowd us out.

The river has been our confidant, mine and my husband’s, throughout our entire relationship. We have walked alongside of it hand-in-hand. We have had terrible fights and hoped the sound of the rushing waters drowned out our voices and kept our angry words private. After one of those fights, we were engaged. Nathan dropped down on one knee and proposed with a key ring, under our cloud of witnesses—a circle of tulip poplars at water’s edge.

It was only natural that we would want to live close to this river for as long as we could. When we started looking for apartments, this was the only place we looked. 

There are rocking chairs, swings, picnic tables, a fireplace…really everything needed for the perfect retreat. And that is what it has been for us. In this space we have rested, healed, and grown closer together. The river has been our balm, and the birds (geese, ducks, hawks, eagles!) our bringers of good news. The trees shelter us, and the river rats delight us. The coffee’s good too.

In this season of our lives, our community has shrunk and we have been rather secluded. We needed the time to heal, and we needed the time to just be us for a little while. We have been in the church of the wild.

Soon, it will be time to rejoin the land of the people. We will go back to attending church regularly, we will have friends over and go out to parties, and we will generally socialize. But I will always look back on this time and remember our Brother River, and all the creatures who call him home, and I will remember them as our community: our dear friends who nursed us back to health and sent us back out to serve the world.

Erin Ware is a visual artist and writer who lives in Atlanta with her husband, Nathan. If she is not knitting, she probably has her nose in a good book. She blogs at


What is Epiphany?

In Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God, author Bobby Gross reminds us that the liturgical season of Epiphany brings the themes of light to a culmination.  In Advent we cry out with Isaiah for the pople who walk in darkenss to see the promised light.  In Christmas we celebrate the coming of that Light in the birth of Jesus.  In Epiphany we recognize that the gift of Light is for the whole world as illustrated by the arrival of Magi from the East to the Jewish home of Mary and Joseph.  
Throughout the daily readings in the Epiphany lectionary, we follow the early life and ministry of Jesus as He is revealed as the Son of God, appearing as light to a dark world.  He is the very God shining forth, manifesting the glory of God. Oftentimes the accounts are private affairs (Transfiguration), other times public (Wedding at Cana, Baptism).  All of them take place, though, in the places Jesus lived and worked, within the context of his relationships of family, friends, and followers -- the sick, possessed, poor, celebrating, drinking, seeking, religious, fearful, apathetic, discouraged neighbors.  
Jesus often follows these revelations (or “epiphanies”) with the command to “Go and tell”.  

“The one who shows himself to us asks us to make him known to others. The one who declaires, ‘I am the light o fhte world,’ says to us, ‘You are the light of the world.’ (Bobby Gross)

Lastly, two cultural practices are percolating in my imagination as I'm thinking about Epiphany:  the Blessing of the Home and the Beating of the Bounds. They are not universally practiced, but intrigue me in our attempts to live the visible life of Jesus-followers in our own neighborhoods.

Each of my guest posters selected a few prompts from a big ol' list I sent them (inspired by an overflowing folder of quotes I've saved from the Daily Asterisk).  They combined those prompts with photos and videos and observations from their own neighborhood.  I'm excited for you to follow along and please let me know if you'd like to contribute your own Walking Epiphany travel diary.


What about your neighborhood?

  • I walked around the block in your neighborhood, what would I see (hear, smell, etc.)? Show us some of the "creeks and rivers, weather, seasons, stone outcroppings, plants and animals" that share your neighborhood.

  • What sort of public "rest stops" are available in your neighborhood?  Are they used well or barely noticed?

  • Where do your neighbors hang out when they are not inside their homes?  Front porches?  Backyards?  Town parks?  

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