First Shots

Yesterday at New Song, the service’s theme was Relocation. People talked about their experiences as those who had been living in Sandtown for 4, 20+, or their whole lives, working to flesh out the love of Jesus in the neighborhood. Having just moved here, I found myself becoming very excited about ways that Matthew and I could get to know our neighbors and neighborhood kids better, things to pray about, and carving out time to just sit outside with people, especially as the weather continues to warm.

It turned out to be a day of dreaming. After church, my dad and brother were coming over for lunch, but since we had a lot of food in the crock and we live so close, 4 other friends joined us. A couple of them are graduating from UMBC in the spring, and they all talked about what they thought the near future would hold for them all. They also helped us move the furniture for the house show tomorrow night, which we were really thankful for. Later  I went for a run in nearby Druid Hill Park with a new friend, who teaches at New Song Academy, and talked about her transition into the neighborhood two years ago, as well as ways we could get to know some kids.

The day ended with more hanging out in the neighborhood. Matthew went up to Harford County for the Missions Conference at NCPC with some folks, while I stayed behind with a family and was able to hear more of their story (I can’t get enough of stories!), share dinner, paint nails with S., and tuck in the kids. Afterwards I sat on the couch to read, because E. asked me not to walk home alone. She had gardening magazines, so of course I happily complied.

In the midst of reading about lettuce, I heard a loud, almost crackling–like fireworks– sound, coming from the north end of the block. The gunshots fired once, crackling– and then again. I couldn’t see anything out the window except people moving down and away from the intersection. Soon, police cars began wailing their way up the block. A helicopter with a searchlight went overhead. I heard snatches of conversation from outside: “Somebody needs to call their mother.” E. called me upstairs, and as one of the kids came down from the third floor, she asked if he was ok.

“I know what just happened,” the 13-year-old said. “Somebody just got shot.” And he headed upstairs.

Having just finished mental health nursing, as a result of which my new favorite question is “How does that make you feel?”, I wondered about the effects of these events on kids like C. Surely, some sort of coping mechanisms develop– at the cost of an otherwise oblivious childhood. In his sermon yesterday, Allan noted, “There is not a person who has relocated, remained, or returned to this neighborhood who has not shed tears for the kids.” I believe that this is where Gd has called us for the next few years, but my feelings are mixed about sorting through issues such as this one.

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