We’ll build new traditions in place of the old
’cause life without revision will silence our souls
-Sleeping At Last
The tall ceilings and golden wood floors call to me. It’s a southern brick house with columned front porch, bedrooms in the attic, and transomed windows. The kind of house that we’ve always said, ‘wouldn’t that be cool’.
And now it’s home.
This move feels like being transplanted from the small plastic container to a soft garden plot. It’s the gardener’s gentle hold, watering the root system, whispering grow, grow.
It’s the beginning of transforming the larceny of locusts into meaningful life.
People give us a shocked look, an ‘oh wow’ when we tell them the neighborhood we’ve chosen. It is a generous dose of grace to assume positive intent to these reactions. I assume they think we are ignorant Yankees. I hesitate to tell them this was intentional, that I’ve read the city-info, and I know. Diverse racially. Check. Affordable rent. Check. Safe(ish) neighborhood. Check.
One person suggested we buy a gun to live here.
I love my road. It’s beautiful. I love watching everyone out walking, riding bikes, playing basketball. I love that my kids will have more than white neighbor kids to play with. That verse about pleasant boundaries feels cheesy, but true.
Why Virginia, people asked, and how do you sum up ‘we wanted to create a different kind of life’ in a sentence?
That requires describing the kind of life we were creating and what living in a place does to inform the kind of life people lead. Which gets dangerously close to the misinterpretation of ‘if it didn’t work for you, you must be judging me,’ which is all sorts of messy, and also not true.
We drove 850 miles to create a different life.
It’s easy to say ‘we were surviving, not thriving,’ but what does that really mean? Bothered by the whiteness, the middle-classness, frustrated by the apathy, and drained by the economy, we were just tired.
A big yellow truck was our modern-day covered wagon, crossing the fields and the mountains, suffering through rain and a nervous cat. All our earthly possessions in flammable, crushable containers, prone to wetness.
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it.
Leaving for something different. A start. Not fresh. Just transformed.
The walls are blank. Waiting for art, for photos, for some ooooh-I-saw-that-on-Pinterest-and-now-I-have-the-space-to-do-it beauty.
We walked into the empty house on a rainy afternoon, the space an invitation.
Come, create life inside.
Form yourself around this house, this yard, this community.
Bind my wandering heart to thee.
Tape ripping, cardboard peeling back, revealing life. Memories wrapped in newspaper, unwrapped. All the rushrushrush pressure to pack in 4 weeks, only to be undone. I am undone.
What are we doing here? Is life really dependant on location? What are we making with our lives?
What are lives made from, if not the large decisions and small moments? The habits and values changing as they do, as we change, transform, grow.
What if life wasn’t entirely about the 401k and the size of a house. What if life was about living into meaning?
We do not merely exist. We are. We create a life. Carved out of the hours, the memories we make, the places we live, we create a way of living that enables people to point at us, maybe even try us in the court of public opinion, and say, this is what they value.
We’re trying to create the kind of life we’re being drawn to, the specific qualities of Jesus that are pulling at us. I want to create a life of meaning.
Here I raise my Ebenezer.
We moved into tension. Eventually to seek peace. We’re trying to slowly break the hold middle-class life has on us (I’m afraid I will not cope well with this come Christmas). I want to continue being more afraid of the snakes than the people, as God surely intended. (Virginia has some crazy-ass nature, let me tell you.)
We’re trying to create a life that seeks after justice, community, inclusiveness.
Trying, trying, trying.
Transform. Change. Grow. Create meaning. Walk humbly. Seek justice.
We action-verb our way to life.
Why do some artists use watercolors and others oil, while yet others pencil, film, or piano?
Why Virginia, why this neighborhood?
What can I say, except that these are the things of creation.
Linking up with SheLoves for October. #CREATE