The first day with TGNM began with a blast. I made my commute to Greensboro, went to get breakfast, and then my tire popped. In that moment I found myself wobbling on three tires hoping to get back to the lot - a safe space for towing. This event somewhat foreshadowed the challenges I would have here. Soon during my placement I too became like my car during it’s traumatic experience. I was rolling tirelessly on three wheels with hazards on, driving carefully bracing myself for roads to come. As I look back on my journey, I see that TGNM church journeyed similarly as I in this season, embracing change as it experienced storming, forming, and norming dynamics of community-building. 1 Corinthians 13:12 (MSG) portrays this image beautifully stating,
“We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!”
We all ponder on what is next as we’re squinting in fog. Yet we are still gifted greatly with the cosmic love of God. It was love that steadied me and this church in this season of many changes. During these times we have been constantly swaddled in the arms of God. Love was present where we have been, and is traveling before us - hinting where we will go. During my time here I saw our consolations and desolations both cry out to God. Our consolations waved hello back at love. While our desolations turned flashlights looking for love in the dark moments of this summer.
In 1 Corinthians 13: 7-8 (MSG) Paul Shares to the Church of Corinth what Love is. In my field ed placement like Paul, TGNM shared with me what love is. Paul shares that love :
Love never gives up. - Like Andrew persisted with the community garden.
Love cares more for others than for self. - Like Erica’s generous spirit.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. - Like Brandy’s bold confidence.
Love doesn’t strut. - Like Robert’s humility.
Doesn’t have a swelled head. - Like Patricia’s active listening.
Doesn’t force itself on others. Isn’t always “me first.” - Like the Beloved Community Center’s ministry.
Doesn’t fly off the handle. - Like Reggie’s patient spirit.
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others. - Like Mo, Samuel, Isaac, and Philip.
Doesn’t revel when others grovel. - Like Vheenah’s compassion.
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth. - Like Brandon’s great supposition.
Puts up with anything. - Like Kelly’s unwavering hospitality.
Trusts God always. - Like Joey’s bold move to Seattle.
Always looks for the best. - Like Marcus’ undying hopefulness.
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
1 Corinthians 13:1 (MSG) “If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.”
For me love has been here, it has led me here for a season of sharing, service, partnership, and therapy. I found love teaching me how to belong in the homeless union, and in each city village. I found love to be still, centering my mind and creating the lens that I see others through. For me, love has become. Love became more than life but a steady contemplative practice. Love has been bold in bold letters, bold actions, and bold reminders of God’s faithfulness. Love has given us all understanding and a language to communicate. This language continues to translate our values to every encounter.
As I cleared my whiteboard of to-do items, meetings, and reminders, I noticed everything is not finished. Yet nothing is undone. Love follows me, covers me, and walks with me back to Duke as love follows walks and carries TGNM through into the next season. God is holding all of us in God’s hand and God’s love will guide us through.