This week, there was good news and bad news coming from places of power in the city of Detroit. The 18-month reign of Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr (appointed by the governor) has come to an official end. Now, elected officials (the city council, mayor and school board) will have the power to do what residents elected them to do: make decisions. Unfortunately, Judge Rhodes ruled against the plaintiffs bringing a lawsuit against the city to place a moratorium on water shut-offs so that a robust affordability plan could be put into place (see Tom's piece for the RadicalDiscipleship site here). We need to figure out how to get instant water to thousands of people out here. Fast. There's lots of work to do coming up this week.
In news even closer to home, Lindsay passed her final licensure exam!!! So…she's licensed to practice marriage and family therapy in California. But we live in Michigan. So…if you need her services, you are going to have to fly her out to come fix you! She has been studying quite a bit since we moved here so it is a huge relief off her shoulders and the end of a long process. We are looking forward to hosting a Strong Marriages couples group at our pad, starting in just a couple of weeks (it's technically "psycho-educational," not "therapy" so it's legit).
On Friday, Lindsay had the opportunity to travel to Kalamazoo with two of the Jeanie Wylie neighborhood community members, Lydia and her son Isaac. They met up with members of Peace House, an intentional neighborhood community organized specifically around providing "a safe, nurturing place for kids to play and learn." The two couples who founded Peace House have a total of 5 kids between them, ranging from ages 5-10. Their community calendar revolves around popsicle parties, back-to-school events, talent shows, after-school programs, long-term house construction projects, and the occassional peace & justice walk or vigil they are involved in spear-heading (the common work that brought us Detroiters there that day).
This community creatively & tirelessly works to ensure that not only their children, but all of the other children in their largely poor, African American neighborhood are taken care of. This safe haven of nurture & learning begins in their common backyard, a hugely wild expanse of backyard gardens, chicken coops, and last but not least, a massive playground. It was clear that this dreamland for any child's imagination was also nestled in the perfect location, right off the self-constructed & spacious back porch where we adults were able to lunch & conduct a 2-hour planning meeting, largely undisturbed by the kids who played happily & freely in our perview. (below: the mural on the back porch at Peace House).
We received our first official visitor this weekend. Gavin Fabian, a 2003 graduate of Capistrano Valley, came out to experience the Motown Magic. More than a dozen years ago, Tom started to get to know Gavin while sharing A's breakfast burritos in the early morning hours in the old athletic director office at CVHS. They stayed in contact because, let's face it, there's still plenty to talk about in regards to relationships, spirituality, politics and everything else there is. On Saturday, we all ran the Rouge River 4-Miler with some of our neighbors and on Sunday after church, we feasted on Middle Eastern food in nearby Dearborn (the largest Middle Eastern population in North America) and then visited the Heidelberg Project on the Eastside, a post-industrial, post-consumer art gallery, specializing in redeeming the "trash" of civilization (see photo above):
Tom directed the liturgy at church on Sunday. After his homily, there's always a couple of minutes of Quakeresque silence and there was a homeless man sitting in the back pew asleep, breathing heavily. The whole thing was strangely reminiscent to teaching 6th period Economics to adolescents after lunch. Not to worry, we got him some fresh coffee. Here's the prayer that Lindsay read at the beginning of the service, from the legendary Walter Rauschenbusch, who was the pastor of an impoverished church in New York City during the early decades of the 20th century:
May we learn that living things do not live just for us, that they live for themselves and for you, and that they love the sweetness of life as much as we do, and serve you, in their place, better than we do in ours. When our end arrives and we can no longer make use of this world, and when we have to give way to others, may we leave nothing destroyed by our ambition or deformed by our ignorance, but may we pass along our common heritage more beautiful and more sweet, without having removed from it any of its fertility and joy, and so may our bodies return in peace to [the earth] who nourished us and our spirits enjoy perfect life in you. Amen.