The Lower East Side of New York has changed, a lot. When you talk to residents, old and new, you can sense the difference. The streets and sidewalks are cleaner. The residents are different. The stores, music venues, and coffee bars are changing. Everyone one looks things are…well civilized. The transformation has consumed the old and replaced it with something better. At least that is what many believe.
I watch the young, smartly dressed, woman walk to Starbucks and work. She mirrors the neighborhood far more than she can ever imagine. If you find yourself caught in her image the scene plays out according to the script. On the other hand, if one is observant you will notice a big napkin stuck to the bottom of one shoe. Blissfully and completely ignorant, she walks on as if she is ready for prime-time.
The warning should be headed. A clean sidewalk of yesterday was filled with glass shards this morning. At the very least someone locked their keys in their car. Far more likely are several alternative stories, all with at least one moment of violence in them. Bicycles secured only days ago lie twisted and stripped. The veterans still walk with a spring in their step yet they also seem to have eyes wide open, alert for whatever life may bring them.
I find myself comfortable in my routine. It is as if I have become self sufficient. The fa?ade is believable, at least for awhile. I casually put the invitations to share in community and Divinity on the side, as if they are no longer needed. It is as if I’m echoing Ahaz’s words centuries after they were first uttered. “I'd never do that. I'd never make demands like that on God!” (Isaiah 7.12)
Am I as na?ve as those to blissfully walk Ludlow and Orchid, unaware of the dangers lurking in front, behind, and often along side of their steps? I hope not. God gives each an invitation to journey enveloped in compassion and strength. Now is the time to hold onto this gift.
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