catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 13, Num 9 :: 2014.05.02 — 2014.05.15


Palm Sunday biking

I have never declared myself as rooted forever in this place. I have not been one who declares they will live here for the rest of their lives or one who speaks persuasively on making the commitment to live here for ten years (“you know, that is what is needed to build trust and relationships with people in this place.”) These statements hold a glory within a people who speak of this place and intentionality with equal intensity as nearly all of our church members live within a several block radius. However, these declarations have never felt right to me as I hold the future with open hands (and perhaps a fear to commit to this place so unlike what I would have expected for my life.)

That said, I am realizing that I am rooted in this place just the same. I realize this when a neighbor asks me if moving here to this new city following graduation is a two-year adventure or if I am here for the foreseeable future; the latter is my quick answer. I realize this when I consider the possibility of buying a house and narrow my search to a half-mile radius without question. I realize this when I look in my kitchen and see that all of the produce was grown in this neighborhood. I realize this when I am stirred to explore other church traditions that are distinctly different from this church/intentional community that I love and I explore only within bounds of what I can walk to. I trust God’s story that simultaneously roots me in this place and leads me to explore other traditions is one and the same, not in contradiction. 

And so I am disoriented and confused when at this new church everyone drives in from various parts of the city only to drive home at service’s conclusion. The shared love (and sometimes hate) for this place is missing. I wonder how I would relate to these others when a shared commitment to place binding our lives is absent. I wonder if that is my call to speak and to live in commitment to place in midst of a mobile society. I wonder about the path forward as I simultaneously hold a growing love for this worship and theology, and also for this people and this place.

On the eve of Palm Sunday, palms are distributed at vespers. The others ask incredulously about where I live when I unlock my bike after the service and ride carrying the palms with me (“I wish I lived that close…it would be so nice to not have to drive 30 minutes”).  And so I ride my bike home on a warm spring night. But I do not take a direct route, I ride up and down the streets of this place. I hold palm branches blessed with holy water and incense waving in the evening breeze on my handlebars and sing the shouts of Palm Sunday known in the song of a friend, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord.”  And those familiar melodies mix with new Eastern melodies of universal resurrection and vanquishing death. I ride and sing and feel the story and song alive in the streets, for that is where this story happens. I ride and sing past friends’ homes, blessing them as they sit inside. I ride and sing past the teenagers who are making out and using drugs in the vacated park. I ride and sing past the neighbors’ home where a fight broke out last week and the police were called. I ride and sing until I am tired and overwhelmed by the great and unexpected gift that just was. It is a great gift to hold the beautiful tension of this place as I discern the path forward.

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