Then, there would be the activists, marching around because of inadequate parking or an unfair ruling. We'd roll our eyes and wonder if they knew how silly they looked and if they truly believed they were changing anything.
Still, the news was shocking and I wore the shove and drag of darkness around like a veil.
We were unsettled. It wasn't that we were afraid for our own lives, but that the thick pulse of humanity and all its pain, all of its confusion rose up around us. The corners that we try to hide from crept out of the shadows and I could see the chain connecting death and life. I remembered (again) the reality of that tension, as real and unnoticed as the turning of the world we stand on.
4 teenagers were shot, no one killed. They said it was gang related, made sure we all knew that it wasn't random violence.
But I imagine the barrel of a gun hanging out the passenger side of a Chevy, I imagine bullet casings landing on the same grass Calvin and Ruby play on at recces, and it sounds pretty random to me. Random enough.
But this is our community and these are our people. They are lovely and hurting. They feel forgotten and unnoticed. They've become something worth standing up for, and we don't even know many of their names.
So I cried because my children didn't think it was weird and because the dear man at my church told me on Sunday, "This isn't something we would normally do, but we're going to try it!". I cried because Haven and baby Avery came with us and it did all our hearts good. I cried because I'm so proud of my husband, who led us here with courage and conviction. I cried because there was a stinking band, and displaced bands almost always make me cry.
This is community. It's what I never knew I needed. These are my brothers and sisters, my surrogate family. They are the ones who have welcomed us without question or explanation.
I always had a hunch that we would be changed by what we found here, but I couldn't have guessed how quickly or completely that change would fall.
Our kids know the concept of drive-by shootings now, and that's okay. It's okay for them to see from a low vantage point that darkness lurks, because every time those shadows shift, it's an opportunity to remind them that God is with us. He's in us.
So tie a daisy in my braids, I'm practically a legit hippie now.
Did we change anything? Really change it?
I don't know that we did. I doubt that any gang members changed their ways because we handed them a pack of Skittles.
But maybe this spinning globe filled with people craving hope can be distilled down to one little neighborhood on a hill. Maybe a human race filled with empty hearts is the same as that young family standing wary at their door, emanating pain in our wake.
I keep wondering what made them open that door. I keep wondering if I'll ever see the other side of it.
Maybe they were reason enough.
I have hope for Chamberlain neighborhood. I know His name and that His heart throbs for all of us. I know that Love lives here, recognize it or not.