Stranded In Suburbia

I miss the Mudhouse.

Those of you who are still back in Springfield understand. At least those of you who have experienced life without it--or something akin to it. I don't know... I just really yearn for the Mudhouse. I yearn for the spontaneous community available to me whenever I need to get away from the mundane for a couple of hours and into the calm exhiliaration of familiar and unfamiliar friendly faces, names, and voices. I'm starving...thirsting without it...parched of humanity.

Intellectual arguments aside, and existential arguments to the forefront. My experience proves to me that authentic, visible, cohesive neighborhoods are in every way necessary over against the suburban jail cells. My experience is ultimately what matters to me in cases like these, because I'm the one who has to live with it.

I'm sure that even my church friends who live just 15 minutes away--that is, four towns away--have to feel this way from time to time... that even amidst the connections we have via small groups, social events, and corporate worship, a real, deeply human connection is lacking. That type of connection that happens when we burst into tears in the other's presence, because of the heavy load we're bearing, or because of the tragic loss we've endured, or because of our sharing in the grief of someone we love. The type of connection that happens when we giddily shout in celebration of joys, successes, answered prayers. The type of connection when we reveal all of the questions we've been secretly harboring about whether the Bible is really perfect from cover to cover, whether God's grace is truly sufficient to deliver us from temptation, or whether we are even truly His.

Am I simply a nostalgic idealist, longing for a reality that has never even existed? Quite simply, no. It has existed, and I have experienced it. Pardon me. I have experienced them. Their names are Kelly, Jason, and Ryan. And then there is the Mudhouse, the Mudlounge, and all of the acquaintances that brightened my day in smaller, yet vital ways, every time my shadow darkened their doorways. I miss you. All of you.

It's ironic that I'm going to seminary to learn about God, His Word, and His Church amidst the Suburban Desert. I suppose desert experiences are not unprecedented for people of Christian faith. But that doesn't diminish my nostalgia, nor my earnest longing for a return to a flesh-and-bone genuine community.

Hey you... yeah you... the one reading this... Are you with me? Are you thirsty? Or have you even taken a long enough breath from the hustle and bustle of "life" and the hyperstimulation of mass media to recognize your loneliness? How often, and for how long, do you sit in silence--not thinking about what you have to do next or where you have to go--and meditate on Christ and on your life? Try it, would you? Maybe just for 10 minutes a day at first. Keep a pen and paper handy, so you can clear your mind of the clutter. Then start over again, once your clean. Do that for a few days, then ideally a few weeks, until you form a habit. Then journal your observations. Hopefully you'll start feeling lonely, and maybe, just maybe, you'll get desperate enough for real community that you start committing to make it happen. Boy, how I'd love to dialogue about how to make it happen. But the first step is getting desperate.

Off to bed I go. I just had to get that out. Thanks for listening... I mean, reading.

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