catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 7, Num 16 :: 2008.09.12 — 2008.09.26


Nameless community

The city is abandoned buildings and broken windows. The city is retired teachers serving cookies and cups of juice to the newest Canadian citizens. The city is cigarette smoke in the afternoon air between the bank and the bingo hall. The city is Italian sports bars and the yacht club down by the bay. The city is the print studio with the ink-stained counters. The city is the art crawl once a month. The city is wheelchairs on every street and rumba in the only downtown café open after dark.

The neighborhood is old brick houses lining the streets. The neighborhood is ancient trees that lean over the roads like great green guardian angels. The neighborhood is antique shops and hair salons and antique shops and hair salons. The neighborhood is the European bakery with ice cream in the back and the bagel bakery where the firefighters stop for breakfast. The neighborhood is organic groceries and expensive baby shoes. The neighborhood is the water park without water. The neighborhood is a trail along the escarpment that overlooks the city. The neighborhood is “No Tobogganing on the Golf Course.”

The people are a celebrity or two in grand old mansions a street over from business owners and middle class families. The people are stoned parents sitting on their porch among the broken beer bottles, screaming at their little girl. The people are living in halfway houses with turrets and winding staircases. The people are young mothers and nannies and stay-at-home fathers walking on the street when the weather is pleasant, pushing their strollers, dragging their children and dogs behind them and carrying their books to the tiny library from 1925. The people are refugees unable to find jobs because of their skin color.

The story is that this summer at midnight a girl was raped in a park nearby. The story is that high school students get themselves into serious trouble at bush parties at the end of the school year. The story is a street festival once a year. The story is waving to five people you know who are also out on the sidewalk this afternoon, doing errands or getting coffee with a friend or hurrying to work. The story is that you never know whom you will encounter and what you will see when you step out of the door. The story is not that everyone loves living here; it’s not what people might call a “happening place.” The story is that it takes two minutes, one to five blocks in any direction, to walk to many of the people you know.

The building is empty pews in a neo-Gothic sanctuary. The building is for lease. The building is stained glass windows preaching the gospel and parishioners giving Jesus back to the Middle Ages please. The building is a grand piano and Handel for Christmas. The building is James Ehnes floating out of the window and landing gracefully on the grass outside. The building is family movie night on Friday.

The church is a small and motley crew praying for their neighbors. The church is picnics in the park—bring all of your friends. The church is two-year-olds jumping up and down in the chapel while the rest of the congregation belts out an African song of praise. The church is a professor, a nurse, an artist. The church is haltingly confessing Christ as loving Lord. The church is big dreams and heavy burdens. The church is hoping Jesus will transform the city, the neighborhood, the people, the story, the building, and the church.

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