We walked through the West Central district a couple days ago, and admittedly did a terrible job finding the boundaries (didn’t quite walk far enough, silly us). But walking through, staring at the gaps between the wealthy and impoverished in this city I’ve called home for maybe three years was a bit of a shock. I suddenly saw my own home town in a completely different light.
Growing up, I was always taught there were places you didn’t walk alone. As a kid, I just accepted this, took as gospel that you didn’t go too far past either library or down Macadam or to the forested park without supervision. but walking through west central gave me new eyes for my home. And maybe it’s as simple as I never realized I lived in the nicest neighborhood, surrounded by cheap apartments and a lot of transience. We’re a small town in south Seattle—we’ve only got one high school, and anyone with money sends their kids to the Christian school or the special aviation school. Our neighborhood’s pretty well sectioned off by the casinos on one side and Pac Highway on the other, and in all that space we only have one church—a tiny Presbyterian church to minister to the entire neighborhood (and pretty much their community ministry is a vacation bible school every summer). Everyone pretty much goes far out of the neighborhood to church—I would drive forty-five minutes for a hip church that contained more than a smattering of older teens.
Moving away let me really see my home. I’ve lived in one place all my life—I just thought it was normal (okay, maybe the crime levels weren’t normal). I thought the church was doing the necessary, churchy things. But this month I’ve come to see that I retreat into my house instead of living freely, and the ministries barely scratch the surface of the hurt in my community. I’m not sure how to live into my community, but I’m sure I have to.Anna