Build it here. Across the street, there’s a boxy apartment complex connected to a kitschy and wonderful barbecue place with dollar store blue plaid tablecloths. On the other side, there’s a white stucco house that doubles as a Mennonite church. The neighbor one way gives cello lessons to a string of sullen looking school kids trailing instrument cases and parents with fluttering gestures. The other way is a retired aeronautical engineer who hasn’t mowed his yard in a while and likes to wave when I ride by on my 80s reject scooter. We don’t really know each other, but we wave and smile. When the ambulance came we whispered prayers for healing. When the drug bust came, we whispered the same words. We could come to mean so much to each other.
Build it here. The whole pack of us are manic in the eyes, vacillating wildly between boredom and breakdown. Spending our days together, trying to form something coherent, useful. We sit loosely on one another’s skin like clothes a child is growing into, barely touching but constantly there. The glow of you is dim, like lanterns we fought to keep lit when the night was long and we waited. But we gather around it. We listen all day, trying to be full for the days when we will go and fill others. Trying to take in the daunting process of healing, of wholeness. It is heavy, and it is light. We are joking and we are serious. We are still waiting.
Build it here. The room is dim with mood lighting, trying to jolt You awake inside of us. The weave among us is looser than we might prefer, but is just enough to keep the chill off our arms. The words are rough and scattering, and our hearts are the same. But, in the middle of it, our voices are brave in the darkness. Weak, uncertain, but there; darting audaciously through the hurt and insincerity. We will fight for each other, even if we aren’t certain how. Even if we don’t know exactly who or what we are fighting for. We will pray to the God who does know, and we will unwrap our hurts…maybe just the slightest bit.
Build it here. We are sitting on the couch watching a TV show a couple of notches too loud for conversation. The chill of a wayward comment has thickened the air and tensed the muscles in our shoulders. Our eyes skidding around, searching for purchase as everything becomes unstable. We prod the darkness gently, looking for something to say. It doesn’t come, and we sit again, for the millionth time, not quite connected by anything more serious than DNA. We ache in a lonely sort of way, until I’m out the door again to where the air is easier in my lungs. I want so much to fix it; I’m not certain it can be fixed. The atrophy is slow, but constant. As though our ears have gotten used to the shrill sound of the alarm clock in the morning. And there is nothing left to do but pray.
Build it here. My gaze is fixed behind me, and the darkness has settled over me like a blanket in the winter. The itch of it against my skin has gone, and I can barely feel it against me. The fight has grown weak, almost for show. Slowly, the anger and the apathy are reshaping the surfaces into cold, sharp points. It feels like I cannot win. So build it here. Start here in the wasteland that used to be my heart.
Build it here. There are mountains to be brought low and valleys to be raised. There is binding and loosing to be done, and wounds to tie together until the scar begins to form. It is too much with us, and there are walls to build to drive it away. There is planting to be done, and harvesting. There are wanderers to chase after and captives to set free. There is a war to fight, and it will cost us everything. We are not ready. It will consume us with its light. So much will not survive.
Build it here. Shake us, until all that remains cannot be shaken. Until the consumable is combusted and the broken remnants begin to shine. Until the soft, new shoots begin to grow and the rain begins to collect again in the deep places. Until You sit, again, in the high places where we had stood ourselves in the waiting. Send us down, by the still waters to the place where we are held.
The light has grown so soft, as the darkness got so heavy. We wait, clinging to but not quite believing that all will be made new. The harshness of Your light to our dark-weary eyes is terrifying. We wait, not quite certain. Not quite knowing. But hoping that it can happen here, in the middle of the dark. Hoping that the words are not for some far flung people, but that they might instead be a commission…that You maybe are calling us toward a work you have begun. Maybe that you are doing, even as we feel the darkness will consume us.
”build your kingdom here. Let the darkness fear. Show your mighty hand. Heal our streets and land. Set your church on fire. Win this nation back. Change the atmosphere. Build your kingdom here. We pray.”