How beautiful can life be? We hardly dare imagine it.— Charles Eisenstein
Like the commuter trains that rumble just below the meetinghouse, already during my short tenure as Friend in Residence I sense the rumblings of Spirit. It’s the hopeful rumbling for what Charles Eisentein terms “the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible.” I am already drawn to the quiet witness of contemplation and action that I see here day in, day out.
As Friend in Residence I am getting to know many who relate to this space – those from the Meeting, our partners/renters, and our neighbors in Decatur. I have found it meaningful to connect with Friends via worship, First Day school, the newcomers meal and as a member of a Friendly 8s group. Additionally, I have initiated a Tuesday trivia team, Friendly Foes (all are invited). I have also prioritized serving with some of the organizations and events that utilize the meetinghouse, namely Innovation Law Lab and the recent Decatur Dinner on race equity.
In the broader Decatur community I continue to make introductions with residents and community leaders. I have delivered sermons at Central Congregational United Church of Christ, Columbia Seminary, and Emory University. I’ve attended a training on race equity at Columbia Presbyterian Church and volunteered at John McCutcheon’s benefit concert for KIND (Kids in Need of Defense), a non-profit providing legal representation for children in immigration court.
Seeing this building through the eyes of a resident provides a unique lens. I have a passion for hospitality so I enjoy the constant stream of guests. But I’ve also been fortunate to get to meet some of our hidden figures.
One such figure is Dieudonne who performs the bulk of the custodial duties here. I am humbled by his contentment as he works, usually in the solitude of late night or pre-dawn hours. Sometimes I awake to the sounds of Dieudonne performing his duties, not because he is being inconsiderate but because I am a light sleeper. Occasionally, upon being awoken to the sounds of his labor, I will step out of the apartment to confirm my assumption; every time I do I am warmly greeted by Dieudonne, whose name means “God gives”. God has given me the gift of to observe the faithful humility of Dieudonne. I give thanks for Dieudonne’s testimony.
I have also met Constance, a school crossing guard. I’m usually on my bicycle when we encounter one another. She’ll often tell me she’s glad I’m wearing my helmet or that it’s too hot to be cycling. Constance is a caregiver, one who seeks out the shade of our trees while sheltering our children from harm.
After-hours, the meetinghouse itself enters into a sacred silence. At timed intervals, like a church bell tower, the stillness is interrupted by the rumbling of a train. More and more that rumbling sounds like the groanings of a more beautiful world rising to the surface.