My pastor, Bob Henry, read this wonderful blog post this morning at Silverton Friends Church. The post is called “The Hill” and it was written by Mike Huber, pastor of West Hills Friends, a Quaker meeting in Portland. The blog post reminds me of something Wendell Berry wrote in a poem called “How To Be a Poet (to remind myself)”:
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.
The apostle Paul says followers of Jesus are ambassadors of reconciliation. That reconciliation work extends to – and is perhaps even rooted in – our particular places. Thus, part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus is to re-sacralize the desecrated places, as well as to resist the spread of “non-places” (to borrow a term from the Slow City movement) that are the byproducts of fast life.
When I was in grade school, West 37th Avenue came to an abrupt end. There was a steel guardrail to mark the limits of civilization. Beyond the pavement, the ground was covered with weeds and tall grass. A path, curving like a question mark, slipped past the authority of the guardrail. That path rose with the slope of the Hill.
There wasn’t much to entice you upwards. There was no beckoning destination. The trees that grew above the scrubland were uninviting, nothing more than a jagged smudge of middle scenery.