So sorry it's been several days since I've written anything. Sometimes there are just no words. A week ago, I felt like things were settling down a bit and today nothing feels that way. I'll try to explain.
As you know, a new job for Hamp is what brought us to Baltimore last fall. We knew that Ellis and Ginger were here and had started a church and honestly, we might not have agreed to come had that not been the case. We know the importance of the body of Christ and the community that is necessary for healthy living. But nothing could have prepared us for the drastic change that living in the middle of a city brings. When a missionary friend of mine likened it to culture shock experienced by those who go to foreign countries, I knew she had expressed it perfectly.
Because we didn't come as part of the church plant, we didn't have the benefit of City Living 101 and have had to learn as we live out each day. Seeing such stark needs in areas of education, social stigmas, and living conditions has been an eye-opening experience for this middle-aged, middle class, white southern girl. I've been humbled, embarrassed, and convicted most days of my ignorance and prejudices. This is not a bad thing, but it's been hard for me to find joy in the midst of being overwhelmed a lot of the time.
All of this brings us to the last couple of days for Gallery Church in Baltimore. The goal was to put faces, hands, and hearts into the community with the main focus being an HIV testing day. As I've been reminded, the church has ignored this epidemic badly, but the good news is that some are beginning to get involved. Early diagnosis can result in treatment that could save lives, thus the need for testing.
Our main meeting place has been in a church that's around 160 years old. The first day we were there, this image captured my attention and I realized it was the perfect illustration of what I've been living.
At first glance, it appears to be a regular stained glass window that you would see in any church in any location. Only as you get closer do you see the contrast between the hope represented in God's beauty and the sobering reality of life in the city.
That's not the reflection of a fence in the background of the window; it's the bars attached on the outside for safety purposes.
And that is my life - outside my door there's a boat-filled harbor beckoning me for a walk around the edge, gelato to be eaten, and more restaurants than I can count. A few blocks away there's poverty, homelessness, dirt, and despair. God is in both places and loves all who dwell there. I just wonder how I fit.