See Your Neighborhood: Stories of Your Communities
Dear Kaleid Women,
“What’s your story?”
This is a fairly common greeting.
We ask it because it a doorway into conversation. We all have stories - narrative arcs that flow through tension, joy, pain, longing, fulfillment, and relationship. They have shaped us and brought us to today. We are mid-story.
The church in America is also mid-story. Our story has its roots in the Jewish faith - a blessing, covenant, promise, and the kingdom of Messiah. We have a story rooted in the apostolic church - community, faith, persecution, evangelism, eucharist: life in Christ. The story of the western church grew in Europe’s cultural context: the church was central in preserving art, music, literacy, even community order itself. The church’s story took a dramatic turn in the Reformation and then the Enlightenment, disconnecting us from tradition on the one hand and creating more accessibility to scripture on the other. On American shores, the story of our church became one of revival, denominationalism, justice-seeking and culture-shaping. The story of the body of Christ is still being written, and we get to be a part. We are Spirit-filled, broken, interconnected humans, entering into God’s story of redemptive kingdom-come.
Knowing the story of a person or place almost always introduce us to new forms of courage, because living in our stories always requires courage.
Even in our neighborhoods.
The big story of Atlanta includes trade, transportation, war, destruction, Coca Cola, Peachtree Street, Sweet Auburn Avenue, Martin Luther King, Jr., Ted Turner, Hip Hop, Delta Airlines, movie sets, suburban sprawl, urban decay, the beltline, gentrification, and so much more. This story has influenced the smaller stories of our neighborhoods.
It’s dizzying, isn’t it? But also gratifying to realize that God moves through the messy arcs of ongoing storylines to impact people with His love.
So today, spend a minute or two reflecting on story and how it fits into your grocery store run, your workout, your traffic patterns, or the fare at your favorite restaurant. Because taking the time for story makes us better, more courageous neighbors.
Reflect: What do you know about your neighborhood - your town?
When did your neighborhood come to be in its current form?
What was in its place before your home stood there?
Did your town have its own identity that was interconnected with Atlanta as it grew, or was it developed as a true suburb as metro Atlanta expanded?
Are there local heroes? villians?
How is your community run? Do you have a city council or a mayor? A city manager?
What issues are hot topics in your town’s social media feed? Education? Green space? Transit?
How could knowing some of these things give me more empathy, courage, or patience as I live in my neighborhood?