One of my favorite Springtime things to do as an “urban dweller,” is to take early morning walks through Franklinton and downtown Columbus. To borrow the words out of a Wendell Berry poem, these walks help to free my mind and heart and “for a time, rest in the grace of the world.”
As I was walking down Broad Street earlier this week, I saw a lone tulip blooming in the midst of overgrown brush and trash. I almost walked past it, but something invited me to pause and observe. As I stood there, the verse “blessed are the eyes that see what you see” came to my mind.
Seven years ago, I had hosted a group of middle schoolers from Michigan for an Urban Encounter at Lower Lights. Whenever groups come, I ask the Lord for a passage or verse and then wrap a theme around it. For that particular group, the verse “blessed are the eyes that see what you see” emerged as the theme.
This blessing, that Jesus declares to his disciples as he is teaching them about the Kingdom, is nestled between two stories; one about a farmer who scattered seeds and the other about a field where wheat and weeds were sown and grew up together. I have grown to love the parable of the weeds as there are so many dimensions to it.
The middle school group helped me to interpret this parable as a way of seeing the heaviness of our streets (human and drug trafficking, lots of trash, boarded up homes) and yet remain hope-filled at the blessing of seeing the beauty of individuals who find their way into our housing programs and experience life transformative moments that help shape them into becoming the leaders God has created them to be.
Fast forwarding seven years after that middle school Urban Encounter week, I experienced another moment of “blessed are the eyes that see what you see” several weeks ago on Easter Sunday. At Rachel’s House, the women and I hosted an Easter lunch with former residents and their children. It was perfect as one of our current residents was having her first weekend visit with her young son. Her son and the daughters of a former resident had an Easter egg hunt in the backyard, while their mothers shared about the joys and struggles of parenting their children post-incarceration.
My heart was warmed as I recalled both of them in prison at the Rachel's House Bible Study talking about their kids and how much they missed them. To see them out of prison with their children brought great joy!
After lunch, one of the families in our Family Housing program texted me to “come get a plate.” They are amazing culinary geniuses and always share their holiday meals with me. Standing in their kitchen having our usual “foodie fest” conversation with the family and extended family, I was filled with overwhelming gratitude for our Lower Lights housing programs as my mind had a flashback to when they first moved in and finally had a place to call home after months of homelessness.
Later that afternoon, as I was gathering my things to finally head to my parent's home for Easter dessert, something invited me to pause and observe. As I stood on my porch and looked down the street at the homes, teeming with life, that I had just been in, I “rested in the grace” of seeing God’s Kingdom in full bloom.
Emmalyn - Rachel's House Director