Welcome to the second annual WALKING 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?
Read here for a brief description of the liturgical season of Epiphany. See the 2015 WALKING EPIPHANY posts here. Also, don't miss the opportunity to engage with thought-provoking questions for your own neighborhood, listed at the end of this post.
The Jarrett Family
the Rio Grande Valley
along the Texas/Mexico border
by my friend Erica Jarrett (Liturgy of Life)
by my friend Erica Jarrett (Liturgy of Life)
Prompt: Subversive Christianity
Build houses in a culture of homelessness. Plant gardens in polluted and contested soil. Get married in a culture of sexual consumerism. Make commitments in a world where we want to always keep our options open. Multiply in a world of debt. Have children at the end of history. Seek shalom in a violent world of geo-political conflict and economic disparity. This is Jeremiah's word to the exiles. This is Jeremiah's subversive word to us. And in this vision we just might see, with Jeremiah, "a future with hope" (Jer. 29:11). This is what it means to work and wait for a miracle. This remains at the heart of a subversive Christianity.
|photo credit for the horse & cart photos: Kristy Holliday, who blogs at Prone to Wander|
Prompt: Life on foot
Walking is the beginning, the starting point. Man was created to walk, and all of life's events large and small develop when we walk among other people. Life in all its diversity unfolds before us when we are on foot. In lively, safe, sustainable and healthy cities, the prerequisite for city life is good walking opportunities. However, the wider perspective is that a multitude of valuable social and recreational opportunities naturally emerge when you reinforce life on foot.
Enjoying a quick break while out exploring with my little girl.
|Off again. Did you know that the Rio Grande Valley is one of the nations top destinations to view exotic birds and other wildlife?|
|A street festival with my daughter riding on her Daddy's shoulders.|
|We are also not too far from the coast.|
Prompt: Foreigners As Neighbors
In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom. We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants. Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected. For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation. Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present. Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past. We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our “neighbors” and everything around us. Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best. I am confident that we can do this.
Pope Francis from "Pope Francis' Address to Congress" on Sep. 24, 2015
One of the greatest highlights of living on the border has been getting to interact with new neighbors who have come from all around the world seeking freedom. Here are two kids -- who in their own countries would be enemies -- playing on swings. And my own daughter getting acquainted with new friends.
Place is space that has historical meanings, where some things have happened that are now remembered and that provide continuity and identity across generations. Place is space in which important words have been spoken that have established identity, defined vocation, and envisioned destiny. Place is space in which vows have been exchanged, promises have been made, and demands have been issued. Place is indeed a protest against the unpromising pursuit of space. It is a declaration that our humanness cannot be found in escape, detachment, absence of commitment, and undefined freedom.
Walter BrueggemannThe Land
|Imagine waking up to the smell of plastic burning, to the sight of wild dogs tearing up trash in the yard and then looking up and seeing the sun rise.|
Prompt: Imaginative act
What I see behind my eyes changes what I see in front of them; my imagination shapes my perception so that I must look not once but twice at the world to see it whole. Walking down the street, I see a wild-looking character sitting on the steps of the library. His gray hair is matted. His dense beard covers the slogan on his grimy T-shirt. His small darting eyes are as volatile as a hawk's. I look once and think "drifter." I look twice and think "John the Baptist," and in that imaginative act my relationship to the man is changed.
Barbara Brown TaylorThe Preaching Life
|Imagine feeling out of place and alone and mid-afternoon noticing that the potted plants you have had for years for the first time ever have produced this bloom.|
|Imagine rainbows and dancing in a place of desolation|
Imagine a future where childhood remains innocent.
What about your neighborhood?
- Where do your neighbors hang out when they are not inside their homes? Front porches? Backyards? Town parks?
- What are some different methods of transportation your neighbors use? What would be needed for more people to be able to enjoy your neighborhood on foot?
- How does your neighborhood embrace foreigners? Are there organizations set up specifically for that purpose? What other signs of “immigrant” culture can you find in your neighborhood?
- What historical meanings -- stories that have "established identity, defined vocation and envisioned destiny" -- are told about the place where live?
- What sort of declarations are made in your neighborhood as a "protest against the unpromising pursuit of space"?
- Give us a tour of your neighborhood as an "imaginative act" the way Barbara Brown Taylor describes her encounter with the wild-looking character sitting on the steps of the library in the quotation above.
- How has your place shaped your imagination about what's possible for your life? What possibilities has it opened up? What limitations has it created?