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Looking for material

August 9, 2012

Have you read the about me page? I have to remind you that I live in a nice little neighborhood in a nice little college town. I walk the kids to school. We enjoy live music in our downtown square and soccer at the parks and bike throughout the city. It feels quaint.

When you compare it to Seattle, Chicago, and Istanbul… my 3 previous homes.

And, while I have lived in a mega city, pride myself on driving in crazy traffic, and love so many aspects of urban living, I am starting to wonder if maybe I am a small town girl at heart. I did grow up in mountain towns and the rolling hills of Virginia after all.

Yesterday I was driving in Old Town (our downtown/college area) and a car turned in front of me. I was immediately nervous. I didn’t see the driver or passenger, but the car… it was a decidedly urban car. One of those old cars with jacked up front wheels and back wheels dragging near the pavement. And it wasn’t about the people in the car, it was about what the car represented: drugs, violence, poverty, etc… and then, of course, my own reaction.

A few minutes later two police cars sped past me and I started wondering about me and the city thing. When I say I lived in Chicago, technically I mean I lived in the very nice Evanston, just north of the city line. And when I say I lived in Seattle, technically I mean I lived in Lynnwood (or the Lynn Hood, as some will say), again, just north of the city. And, while you can’t escape the craziness of Istanbul, we did spend our last two years there in a quiet-er neighborhood with gates. My point is, for all my reading and talking and planning and preaching about urban needs and such, I have never really been an urbanite, nor faced urban needs for myself.

And now I realize, this is what I’ve been struggling with in my “imparting a theology of justice to our kids.” Material. I am struggling with material! I am feeling void of experiences to redirect our attention. I am feeling, not lulled by our quaint lives, but dry of stories in which we are actually characters.

Which is probably why our family was so thrilled by a brief adventure in the woods this past weekend.

We were camping at the edge of the campground. Nothing spanned beyond our site except for trails. Just as we sat down to dinner we heard a “GET AWAY FROM ME!!!!!” As we looked at each other in bewilderment, the high pitched voice repeated its plea. Mountain lion? Attacker? The Shack came to mind. Chris set off running toward the voice. The kids and I stared for 10 minutes. What to do? No sign of people, or Chris. So I unleashed Aidan to follow.

Ten more minutes passed and then, from another direction, we heard “HELP! HELP!” That did it. I grabbed the keys and the girls to drive to the ranger station when just then, the ranger drove by. I flagged him down and breathlessly told him the story. He angled his truck toward the trailhead just as Chris and Aidan descended… alone.

As we regathered, the boys and girls shared their side of the story. People were involved, but a father and his kids, one of whom may have been a bit histrionic, perhaps disabled? It had a non-eventful ending, but heroics laced throughout, especially for Aidan, who apparently did a ninja move in an attempt to grab a weapon in pursuit. It contained STORY in our fight for justice: to save the distressed caller in the woods.

And I realized, as the two police cars sped by just as I had passed the gang car, we have to be caught up in the material of life in order to process and metabolize truth for our kids. I struggle to do that in our quaint town, but must have better eyes to notice!

Do you share with me in that?

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