Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Attraction of Small Things, or What We Told The Medical Students When They Came Here: Part Two

For Part One go to this link:

Part One focused on our talk this summer with medical and other students in a special summer class that came to visit, and specifically about the cumulation of the unjust "little things", and the breakdown of the bigger social fabric, that together create an abandoned place of Empire here, about why the need is great, and one of the major reasons why we choose to live here.

But there was more, a significant "rest of the story" to what we told them, and it is mostly about why we live here, what is so wonderful about living here that brought us here and keeps us here when we have the means to live pretty much anywhere. About why we sometimes feel like a small community of realtors for our area trying to let loose the best kept secret of the quality of life in this northern edge of the Tulsa community. Maybe it is an example of that somewhat eternally perplexing in its simplicity statement that Jesus made that has resonated down through the millenia when he said, scandalously, "Blessed are the poor."

Three years ago when we began our missional transformation and began to hold community talks and forums listening to people in the area, we definitely heard about all those things that are in part one, but that was only after beginning with the initial focus on the strengths of our area, our lives; about the spirit and stories of the place and the people that define us from the grassroots level moreso than do the statistics and the stereotypes that even we so often fall back into using as our default mode. Actually once they got a chance to open up about the things they like about living here there was almost no stopping them; they were so used to community forums being about protests, about what was wrong, about blaming, about trying to get others to do something we felt needed to be done, that once a safe space was created for the pent up positives to emerge, a strong energy was unleashed that was then used to begin to launch initiatives addressing all the "other stuff" that we so often let become the main stuff.

Our family once bought one of the first homes being built in a new subdivision in a fast growing suburb outside Tulsa, a place where people were rushing to get to and to build and to sell us stuff, eager to become like all the other similar places outside the edges of the city. A place of safety and convenience and some "coolness." Three years later we sold it and moved here into a $28,000 house. It was apparently such a radical thing to do that the bank made us prove that we were actually buying the home to live in, because it had been abandoned for a few years, not for rent or much of the time for sale.

But here, as we told the medical students, not only were we returning to our roots (even though the place had changed much over the ensuing almost forty years) and that is always a spiritually fulfilling thing to do, and not only were we moving close to family (which as opposed to what we taught ourselves as a culture in the 50s 60s and beyond is in fact a healthy thing to do) and back into the very house and yard my wife was reared in and where she lived when we married, and we were able to embark on an ongoing project to save and restore and transform it, but we loved...

...being in an edge community of urban, rural and small town intermingling, of great diversity of ethnicity (for our Oklahoma area anyway), where city buses and a diversity of races on horseback and foot traffic all can be experienced (though not an intentional walkable community)

...being fairly close to the developing downtown, and to outlying lakes and parks, where here people fish in the ponds of golf courses, and zoo, including the animals in the front yards kind of personal zoos with pigs and donkeys and goats getting loose and reminding you "life will out" and not be kept in a box, and close to the airport, and little places where you can go park and lay on your carhood and watch the airplanes come in over you for landing.

...being up close and personal with Turley Hill and with the prairie of Osage County nearby, of still not too light polluted skies.

...being able to grow a native plant yard or to plant where we want to what we want to create a natural habitat landscape without having to worry about anti-ecological and anti-sustainable and anti-community building covenants

...being able to have resources go soooo much further here, enabling a track of financial security easier at same time as being able to make money go so much further through having more means to contribute to causes and people and to create community, to be able to live a little more easily an "other-centered" life, a prerequisite of a fulfilling life.

,,,being able to meet such a range of people with experiences, and to encounter "great characters" or to become one.

...being in a culture where people know that they have to rely on themselves but can't go it alone and so they are ironically then more open to helping others just as a matter of doing what needs doing; where there isn't a culture of turning to professionals or experts to take care of matters and so a culture of learning from one another, sharing resources, is born.

...being able as a matter of course and simple partnerships to address or broach the matter of racial reconciliation instead of so easily putting it off for the next agenda, and perhaps most importantly, for when you don't do it you can't so easily hide from it...for the deep growth of the soul that comes from being, in my case, a member of the overall dominant ethnicity elsewhere but here to be in the minority, especially as our state by the year 2014 will be a state made up entirely of minorities, with no one ethnicity a majority one, so that term will lose its traditional meaning.

...being able to jump right in and be a leader, and work with other leaders, to come up with crazy dreams without having to work the system that is set up to kill the dreams that are birthed.

...being able to get to know the small business owners and support them and support a more just economic structure.

...being able to not so easily slip into like-minded groups and so to know and at least get a glimpse into what communities of service and real loving freedom extended to one another in covenant are all about, that Great Experiment (no one said it would be easy or should be) that both our nation founders and further back the followers of Jesus sought to incarnate.

...and conversely when you do :) find like-minded folks willing to walk this walk with you then you are ever so grateful and mindful of the gift others are.

...finally, for me, I said, speaking for myself in the language of my faith, it is here that I can best meet and walk with Jesus, and that is no small thing, it is the ultimate thing, though realized in all the small things.


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