Urbanite

I’ve gone urban. Sort of.

Last Friday, we moved to Charlottesville, Virginia – and this town has it goin’ on. Like a true urbanite, this week I’ve commuted to UVA via bike twice and on foot to downtown three times. I’ve snagged the transit schedule (a bus stop is half a block from our house) and lugged two pieces of IKEA furniture up multiple flights of stairs into our abode. If that doesn’t make me a city dweller, I don’t know what would.

I am so enamored with biking to work that I now greedily eye the saddle bags of every biker I see on the road. I’m getting me some, if I can just figure out what I actually need and how to find them cheap. Craigslist has been no help, but good news: Performance Bike is in town with their 10% off Tuesdays.

Now Cville is no urban metropolis, I will admit. The DCF diaspora has sent friends to Denver, Nashville, Richmond, Charleston, Seattle – admittedly, all more urban than our new home. But this town has a very legit funky vibe. I mean, two friends went to see B.B. King downtown tonight for crying out loud. This city has already captured me. Much more to come.

Walking down 5th Street the other day, I saw an elderly man with this caption across his t-shirt: “Step back and let Jesus do what he do.” What’s not to love?

Among a Row of Houses

Book Club Update: Our life is in upheaval this month, as we move from Clemson to Charlottesville, VA. Thus, the book club will resume next month. Sorry (again) for the delay on Peterson’s The Jesus Way.

I’m aware that I have written little here of the seismic shift that we are about to experience: uprooting our family and life from the people and the spiritual community we love in Clemson to set off on the adventure of rooting ourselves in a new place, with people we will grow to love in Charlottesville, Virginia. I’m not sure why all the quiet. Perhaps, in part, a desire to stay present here and now, making the most of the short time we have had. Perhaps, in part, a result of the emotional complexity of the whole affair, unsure how to give justice to two competing truths (we deeply love this community and we know deep in our bones that we must move into another community) without it sounding like some hollow junior high breakup (Let’s just be friends…).

Well, here is the God-honest truth: we do deeply love this community, and we know deep in our bones that God has another mission for us, another community where we are to give ourselves away.

Tonight, our church gave us the gift of gathering at the Hayes’ home, everyone bringing food, and all of us sitting around the room as various people shared their well-wishes for Miska, me, and Nathan (my pastor-partner @ dcf who is also moving away) and Amie. It was beautiful. There were tears. There was laughter (mostly at my expense, but I hold no grudges : )

The evening reminded me of the rich truth that love (true love) never exists in abstraction. Love is not an ideal or an ideology; it is an action. Love shares another’s pain. Love hurts when another faces sorrow. Love laughs and cries and hopes and believes (I think St. Paul said something similar). Love shares meals and watches kids. Loves gives money and time and dreams. Love hugs and pushes. Sometimes, love hurts. But love does not – ever – simply theorize. Love acts. Love moves. Love lives.

Recently, a friend passed along a New Yorker article (which I was happy to receive because my subscription ran out) by literary critic Adam Gopnik. In the piece, Gopnik sifted through the “troubling genius of G.K. Chesterton,” on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of The Man who was Thursday. Explaining G.K.’s intense reaction to homogenization (particularly the modernistic and industrial sort) and strong passion for localism, Gopnik commented on some of Chesterton’s pithy lines to draw this conclusion:

[Chesterton believed that] we cannot have a clear picture in white light of abstraction, but only of a row of houses at a certain time of day…

A certain place. On a certain street. In a certain moment. These particularities are required to yield the clear vision. But we have to sit and wait and watch. We have to give ourselves. And we have to give ourselves time. And we have to give ourselves this time with others, listening and laughing and working and dreaming, all in the way and in the name of love.

So, in Clemson and in dcf, we have (at least partially, I hope) lived among a row of houses at certain times of the day. And oh, how I will miss this street and these sunsets, these coffees and conversations and walks and prayers. And I hope and pray that we will again live among a row of houses, different though they will be — because one row never replaces another.