Wednesday, July 23, 2008

In Brightest Day, In Darkest Night (in the 'burbs)

This has got to be the second most beautiful day I have ever experienced, weather-wise. (Sorry you guys down in Texas area - Hurricane Dolly and all that).

It was so gorgeous we opened all the windows in the house and let the stunning breezes and brilliant Mid-West sunshine come flooding in. The sky was that stunning blue you usually only see in heavily retouched photographs. It was so bright and beautiful, I actually took up my landlady's challenge (the "Nancer") and began working on her car, grinding out its rust spots and priming and re-painting those little areas. It was very manly and it was fun using my graphic art skillz to do crisp and clean body repair.

I thought I was going to go see The Dark Knight yet again with a buddy, but he canceled, so I kept working. Then another bud came by and we ended up chewing the fat about our new church.

No Evil Shall Escape My Sight...
I ranted about how Christ isn't being lifted up and made some remarks about how suburbia draws in people who just want a safe life and how that kills us spiritually. I really warmed to the topic of bashing the 'burbs. He (being in his early 20's) understood my anger - we'd both also read a book called Death by Suburb in which the author Dave L. Goetz slams our Americanized Christianity that is so Starbuck's sanitized and comfort-oriented with its "starter castles" for homes.

Do I sound like a lout yet? Read on.

Then I had to go pick up "the Nancer" and proudly showed off the car and my "hard" work. When we got home, I promptly went to lay down from all my efforts while she made dinner (after working six hours). I must say it was very good: chicken-cordon bleu with stuffing. Of course I complained about all the smoke in the kitchen even as I solved the issue by waving it out the afore-mentioned open windows. I was soooo wise, and she had not been.

[Did that sound loutish? I thought so, too.]

Let All Who Worship Evil's Might...
Then I set up the computer so she could hear her pastor live with videocast, and I must say, we really did feel Christ's presence. We were greatly encouraged by the message from his South Barrington (another suburb) campus. When he was a teen, he had been hooked on drugs and was encouraging youth to not follow his self-centered lifestyle. He also pointed out how Jesus' disciples were teens when they began following Him - the proof of this was the fact that only Peter and Jesus needed to pay the Temple tax, because anyone under 20 years of age was exempt.

[Man, who'd have thought suburbs could have good preaching?]

So he was encouraging teens to begin following Jesus NOW instead of later and not seek the world's pleasures and I thought that was cool. And when it was finished, Nancy's daughter called and needed the phone number of a realtor who attends our Bible study, so I found on their website.

[Internet access, I guess it can serve others, huh?]

Beware My Power, GREEN LANTERN'S LIGHT!
We could hear music at the Fairgrounds six blocks away, and since it was a cool night Nancer suggested I go for a walk and I did so, marveling at the delicious air even while I used my custom-made (very cool) mini green superbrite LED. Yeah, I was a Green Lantern baby - with 17,000mcd of power! Yeah!

[Note: You can only be this geeky if you are safe from reprisals. A couple actually stopped their walk to compliment me on my green LED light.]

Once I got to the Fairgrounds, something made me walk alongside the fenceline, on the school campus next to it, and THERE I found a huge People Bridge that went from the school's campus to over the railroad tracks into a subdivision in north unincorporated Wheaton! I mean it was like turning a corner and finding a skyscraper! "I've lived here eight years and didn't know about this?!"

Who's the Brightest?
As I joyfully crossed my personal "Bifrost", I saw the most stunning sight - fireflies all flashing their festivities on my right side, in a little untouched corner of field.

But it gets better. This bridge emptied on the one street I knew in unincorporated Wheaton: Nepil Avenue. The Davis's live on Nepil Avenue; the mom loves my writing, the dad can do anything creative, works for United (got me airline tickets to see my Father when he had his stroke) and their children are WAY talented in art -and art -and more art. They gave me cookies, and a book of fantasy art covers and then said, "Oh, we have a free ticket to the Steven Curtis Chapman/Jars of Clay concert tomorrow night - would you like to go?"

Would I? I was praying for the very thing! (I have no money and no chance to win the ticket - I uh, won something else on WETN less than two weeks ago, so I got to wait.)

I told them I had not idea that there was a bridge from my neighborhood to theirs and I'd lived here eight years. "Oh - its new! It's already gotten weathered, but its just a year old."

Ah, I was wrong in my assumption I thought. I hadn't missed it all this time

On the way back, the fireflies lit up the night again and I bounced home, jubilant.

And then it hit me.

God was blessing me, pouring out His love for me. In the suburbs.

Even though I was a self-satisfied lout.

Who's Your Daddy Now?
Do I think I'm some hero for Christ?

No, not anymore. I'm more like those teens who live at home, eat momma's food, chat on the Internet and then whine "No one understands ME!"

How sad is that?

"You have placed me in a broad and spacious place, O Lord."

It was a very bright day. It was a very dark night -and the littlest lights - the ones created by God - were shining best there.

I saw them and was captivated. The Lord was blessing my soul, granting me solace and friendship and love.

And where was He, the Almighty Lord, doing this? In the suburbs.

Dear reader, I know I do not deserve it. I mean I REALLY understand that.

It is grace. All of it. God's grace to me.

I really don't know what to say.

"Thank you" is too pitiful, but its all I have.

Thank you, God.

I am not good, but You are.

Thank you for the Nancer and cars to fix and people to talk to and young guys to mentor and worship at home and good food and people who love me and accept me, especially when I knock on their door at 10 o'clock at night.

But thank you most of all for fireflies.

'Cause those little itty-bitty lights created by you make the bitter souls of men rejoice.

And if you can make those little bugs shine and be beautiful maybe you can do the same to us.

Even in the suburbs.

Amen.

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