Staying In Place
We disconnect ourselves from everything and everyone who gives our lives meaning and then suffer the modern (or postmodern) affliction of isolation and alienation.
The church has responded to this peculiar modern affliction by emphasizing the need for Christian community. But all too often that means Christians looking at the map, trying to find a Christian community to move to instead of trying to build one right where they are.
As a classical educator, I strive to instill in my students a love of the old ways. Now I’m also trying to nurture a love for the old places. Instead of trying to inspire them to change the world, I now try to encourage them to tend their own gardens, to change their neighborhoods and communities.
Rather than talk about when they are going to graduate and go off to college (as if the leaving is the thing to look forward to); I talk about the return. When they will buy houses and start their families right in this community. When they will be the next crop of church and civic leaders. When they will continue the work of building God’s kingdom that their parents have begun. When their own children will both reap the benefits of the community we have built and expand it far beyond what we could imagine.
And they get really excited. And they want to stay. They want to change the world by changing their own communities.
My dad told me the other day that he wanted me to be on the board of the Starhill Cemetery Association. “We’re getting too damn old to be doing this,” he said, speaking of himself and his friends on the board. “It’s time for you young folks to get involved.”
So I went to a meeting of the board the other night, and saw several guys my age, including one I’d grown up with. I thought, Wow, it’s on us now. We’re the keepers of the community’s graves.