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"Where do we grow from here?"

“Where do we grow from here?” When I worked in East Austin, at the FreeStore, I would pass these words daily. It was graffiti on an old abandoned gas station. Many thoughts would cross my mind as I read those words. Why the heck, have they (‘they’ being any group of people I could imagine on any particular day) not painted over that dumb graffiti? Why is that building not occupied!? The owners could make a killing! East Austin is changing, why are they not changing with it? Yet, for the few years that I rushed past those words, there they remained – a challenging reminder that change is not merely about direction but also about transformation. “Where do we grow from here?” Obviously, I’d have to know where to start; growth implies change but a change that is rooted – rooted in what? I have found that we are a directional sort of people. In many ways, many of the divides we experience can be characterized by accusations that we are moving ‘backward,’ or ‘we are progressing toward nowhere.’ Of course, these sorts of allegations imply a definitive idea that one knows precisely where to go and how to get there – I wish I were so lucky. Certainly, I’m not bothered by the fact that I’m surrounded by people (myself included), who think of themselves as prophets, priests, or kings, it’s the fact that our inner dispositions and attitudes seemed unfazed by the events of the world we prophesy about, care for, and rule over. Onward we march, toward the direction of our choosing. All the while, we seem to be the very same people we always have been – unchanged and convinced of the greener pasture that lies beyond the current mess we all helped to create. “Where do we grow from here?” They still haven’t changed the words on that damn building! The interesting thing about those words is the hope inherent in them. We are, after all, somewhere. It may not be the place we envisioned, the embodiment of the vision that was cast, but it is a place; a place, where Jesus reminds us, that the Kingdom can indeed sprout - in a gentle gesture, a touch, a kind word, a kiss, a conversation, in a moment. Perhaps, calling something ‘a way forward,’ was too bold an assertion; we chose a direction without, first, choosing a disposition. Additionally, we act surprised when we feel like we have not moved anywhere. Friends, how do we embody a witness of Christ’s love that transforms our hearts? Not for the winning of an argument, or many votes, or the appeasement of a particular population of people, but for the transformation of our collective heart; for the sprouting of God’s Kingdom which is, always, a moment away.