Neighborhood Landscapes


I love driving into our neighborhood. The road passes over a creek, trees stretch their arms to the sky, and sometimes a hawk flies into view or deer stand still in the landscape. I have a sense of communion with each of our neighbors who are shaped and formed by this same landscape. We see one other daily while walking our dogs, driving to work, attending to our lawns and caring for our children. When the wildness of creation tosses a snowstorm our way, we shovel and share eggs and milk as needed. At times, the landscape becomes still and invites us to do the same. We share a common and connected life with our neighbors.

My active role in the church has given me another neighborhood to dwell in. We are clergy and laity, women and men who are shaped and formed by the particular landscape of tradition. The common life we share is under tremendous strain. We cross bridges and climb over fences in order to reach others cut off by social and cultural divides hoping to share the landscape of God’s love which we confess is so deep and so vast that even we cannot fully grasp it.

I am fully convinced that what the church needs, in fact, what the global neighborhood needs, is to practice resting silently in the One who shapes and forms us by grace, forgiveness and mercy. As we become part of that landscape, we might find our connected, common life is already here.


I love it when I notice something new happening, like the renovation in my office I have been blogging about here these last few weeks. Though I have to say, I am ready for things to be set right again, in the usual order. Today, God captured my attention in the image of a kind of “blooming bush,”  (photo above) and helped me to remember that even things that seem out of place belong.

Precious things grow in creative new patterns when we allow them to. Blooms spring forth in ways they have never before. Newness of life happens when we share space with others and grow together in new ways. Welcoming new people is the primary task of the church. I think the creative act of combining things in new arrangements has made a life-giving difference in our world. That is exactly how (for example)  innovative technology, medical treatment, and artistic expression contribute to our world. Maybe the church would be more welcoming of people, if we would also open our minds to welcome new ideas and new challenges, too. If we have no differences among us, there is no space for unity to emerge.

Look again, everything belongs, even daffodils within an evergreen.