I’ve been ruined. It’s been a long steady road I guess. I’m thinking that its taken nearly seven years, but I’m finally there I think. Allow me to explain. It has taken nearly seven years, but I think that I’ve finally become comfortable in an urban existence. I can no longer imagine life without mass transit. I can’t conceive of a world without coffee on every corner….and I don’t mean Flo’s 10 cent ceramic mug coffee. I mean real status coffee. The kind of coffee that I spend a ridiculous amount on, while kids go starving in other parts of the world. I don’t know about any other kind anymore. I don’t know what it would be like to not have coffee on every block. I’m looking out of the window by my seat at Tully’s directly across to Starbucks on the opposite corner. My wife and I walk everywhere. Within a 5minute walk we can eat at restaurants from all over the world, including real authentic New York style pizza. People know us in the community and to some degree we matter, or at least it’s an illusion that I’ve created. I like it anyway. I know artists, and writers and baristas and techies and managers and moms. I know people of every lifestyle and every nation and I see God everywhere. I don’t know if I could ever go back.
I want to be clear though. It’s not that I didn’t know those types of people before in other phases of life. It’s just that they didn’t all live within a two block walk from my house. I saw God all over other phases of my life, but He didn’t seem to live on top of me as He does here. In addition, as if I needed any more stimulation, I live within sight of some of the most beautiful natural creation in all of the world. I can walk on a beach, enjoy the skyline of a city all as foreground to all 14,000 feet of Mount Rainier painted in the sky. In the context of an urban setting like this, one can be on sensory overload very easily. Hence the need for all of the caffeine, I believe.
It’s quite different from the previous 36 years of my life. The change from East coast to West coast has undoubtedly been huge in my life, although I think that it pales in comparison when set beside the change from suburban/rural to urban metro. I live inside the city limits. The last time I lived inside city limits it was a Midwestern “city” of 16,000 people. It has a sign outside of town that read “City of Lincoln”. Personally I believe that if you need a sign to identify some place as a city, then it isn’t. In my last place of residence, my neighbors were cows, literally. There was no one else for at least 500 yards. My road was over a mile long with only about 8 families on it. Here, people live on top of each other, literally. This is becoming condo heaven. One family leaves a home and 6 months later 8 families move onto the same lot that doesn’t look anything like it did. I’m not claustrophobic by nature, but my first experience here was not a comfortable one. I was overwhelmed. There are still situations that tend to overload me. A weekend trip to a local Wal-Mart is one of them I don’t know if God will ever help me to adjust to. It’s not the rural, “Hi there, how can I help you” Wal-Mart experience that I grew accustomed to in the Midwest. It’s more of a trip to the United Nations or maybe even a glimpse of what Ellis Island was back in the day when “The Boat” came over. You know….the one “Boat” that all of our ancestors seemed to come over on. Anyway, to be honest, there is still stretching and sensory overload from time to time, but I can’t imagine life without it now. Now I’m just ruined.
I’m not complaining, I’m grateful actually. I have a bigger view from here of what I have always imagined about God. I have a bigger view of His creativity which I never though was possible. I have a greater appreciation for grace and the human condition which He sacrificed for. I have a greater tolerance for divergent views, but I also have a greater urgency about my life to be an agent of the before mentioned grace that is a lifeline for us all. I believe more strongly in the disarray and destructiveness of evil and the peace and restoration of the cross. I’m more aware of the metaphors and the stories that surround me. Ruined has become a good thing.