Friday, February 16, 2007

Building a wall.......

Several weeks ago we began building a new room in the basement of the Golfview House (a community home intended for men in transition). Scott Morehead has done the overwhelming majority of the work and it is turning out to look very nice. I had the chance to join him for a few hours one Saturday afternoon to help frame-up one of the walls and install some insulation. The process of building a wall is something that is very satisfying. It is a tangible project that has a measurable easy to define ending point; once it is finished it requires little or no further work and is simply there for your enjoyment and use. This kind of finite outcome is very different than what we find in the relationships that we build with one another. Relationships require almost constant effort, can never be taken for granted, and do not provide us with the same kind of tidy ending point. This is something that Scott and I discussed as we built the wall. It is hard to keep up the near constant effort required to make a relationship work. And it is especially hard to maintain that effort, to make room (thanks Christine Pohl for this concept!) for others in your life, when relationships sour or disappoint; and this is something that inevitably happens when you try to love your neighbor. We have certainly had our share of disappointments with the Golfview House. Sometimes, in my darker moments, it seems like the whole effort has been in vain, and I wonder why we continue to make such efforts. However, there is something incredibly pure, inspiring, and revitalizing about building a wall together; there is something umistakably holy about preparing a place where someone else can live and hopefully find security, even if that person chooses not to take advantage of the opportunity. So I find myself, in the face of all my personal doubts and demons, returning to the sacred task of trying to make and prepare room for others. Indeed, I think that this is the fundamental act of God in creation, calling forth light out of darkness, order out of chaos; God willed creation to be,goodness to flow, and freedom to reign even though evil threatened to impinge upon it. We've been studying the Book of John in our small group at the Golfview House, and this past Wednesday we looked at the first chapter. We talked about how God chose to take on human flesh and "move into the neighborhood (thank you Eugene Peterson!); a neighborhood where the neighbors insulted him, falsely accused him, tortured him, and then murdered him! Wow! And John says that Jesus built this very neighborhood......he's the general contractor of the cosmos! How incredible it is that Jesus, who created everything that exists, and welcomed us all into the grand party of creation, embraces and loves us in the midst of our very unneighborly, dastardly, and even murderous behavior! I've started thinking about this in connection to my own struggle to continue making room for others in the face of disappointment. Needless to say, it is humbling. It has helped me to more deeply appreciate how amazing it is when Jesus says to his disciples (also in the Gospel of John )that he is "going to prepare a room" for them in his Father's house. As he approached Jerusalem, where the treachery and conniving of all those around him would reach it's pinnacle, Jesus was thinking about preparing (eternal) homes for the very people who would soon desert him in his hour of greatest need. This is amazing. John's gospel begins to draw to a close in the very same manner in which it started, with the one and only beloved Son of God creating a space in which others can share and prosper. I would do well to emulate him as I join with others in helping to build secure places in which others can live and propser.

1 comment:

geoff and sherry said...

thanks for this reflection, billy. sherry and i just read the ash wednesday scriptures and loved the imagery of God's people being "repairers of broken walls" and "restorers of streets with dwellings" (Is. 58:12) thanks to you and scott (and the rest of the golfview crew) for leading us into such grounded practices. keep going!