WALKING EPIPHANY highlights: What would you include in a tour of your neighborhood?

Welcome to the fourth annual WALKING EPIPHANY series of guest posts! You can see previous posts from 2018 here.

 Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

 

For the past four years, I've asked a few friends who live around the world to take a walk through their neighborhoods and share some of the ways they encounter and exhibit the presence of Christ. Each of the friends contributing to the series selected from a variety of thoughtful prompts (collected from my subscription to these excellent daily readings), and today I'm sharing the prompt that has been most often used ("Local ground") along with the photos and captions sent in. I love seeing the various perspectives as well as the common themes in this response.

How about your local ground? 

Don't miss the opportunity to engage with thought-provoking questions for your own neighborhood, listed at the bottom of this post.


Prompt: Local ground

The likeliest path to the ultimate ground leads through my local ground. I mean the land itself, with its creeks and rivers, its weather, seasons, stone outcroppings, and all the plants and animals that share it. I cannot have a spiritual center without having a geographical one; I cannot live a grounded life without being grounded in a place.

Scott Russell Sanders, Staying Put: Making a Home In a Restless World


Our new neighborhood

Bridgeport, Connecticut (south end)

    December 2017 - a walk around the block during the first snow of the season. This is the sidewalk next to our parking lot.
    In the interest of downsizing, we moved to a rental condo in Bridgeport last summer. This is the main entrance to the complex, and the smokestack reminds everyone that the place we sleep, eat and brush our teeth was once a thriving  corset factory  where Doctors Ira and Lucien Warner pioneered a “health corset". They employed over a thousand seamstresses and produced over 6,000 corsets daily at their Bridgeport factory. In 1915 they purchased the patent for the first bra invented by 19-year-old Mary Phelps Jacob. 

 

In the interest of downsizing, we moved to a rental condo in Bridgeport last summer. This is the main entrance to the complex, and the smokestack reminds everyone that the place we sleep, eat and brush our teeth was once a thriving corset factory where Doctors Ira and Lucien Warner pioneered a “health corset". They employed over a thousand seamstresses and produced over 6,000 corsets daily at their Bridgeport factory. In 1915 they purchased the patent for the first bra invented by 19-year-old Mary Phelps Jacob. 

 

Here are 9 more neighborhood introductions from around the world that friends have shared with us here over the past 4 years. (I'd love to hear about your neighborhood in the comments below!)


The Pousseur Family: Chris, Tracy, Ella & Jemma

Higashikurume-shi, Tokyo, Japan

 ( 2017 )  "A TYPICAL VIEW OF MT. FUJI FROM OUR BUS. IT HASN'T LOST ITS WONDER!"

(2017)

"A TYPICAL VIEW OF MT. FUJI FROM OUR BUS. IT HASN'T LOST ITS WONDER!"


 ( 2016 )  "Thank God the Texas winters are mild and greening. I feel the beauty of this place most now, as Epiphany reveals marvels in midwinter: the precious fragrance of southernwood and Satsuma; chamomile outside my door, as well as calendula and lemon balm, good for salves and lotions. Living in a refurbished RV, I feel the temperatures swing from frigid nights to golden afternoons: we may open the screen door tomorrow, but today I was glad for an excuse to light the oven and win some extra heat from it. The winds tonight make the whole house sway, but we brew our tea (mine with nettle, which grows abundant here) and enjoy jam from the wild Mustang vines I found in August. We settle in, wishing we had a hearth made from that beautiful hill country limestone. We dream about what we can build on this ground--this native soil, this home."

(2016)

"Thank God the Texas winters are mild and greening. I feel the beauty of this place most now, as Epiphany reveals marvels in midwinter: the precious fragrance of southernwood and Satsuma; chamomile outside my door, as well as calendula and lemon balm, good for salves and lotions. Living in a refurbished RV, I feel the temperatures swing from frigid nights to golden afternoons: we may open the screen door tomorrow, but today I was glad for an excuse to light the oven and win some extra heat from it. The winds tonight make the whole house sway, but we brew our tea (mine with nettle, which grows abundant here) and enjoy jam from the wild Mustang vines I found in August. We settle in, wishing we had a hearth made from that beautiful hill country limestone. We dream about what we can build on this ground--this native soil, this home."


 ( 2016 )   "The beauty of Juneau and Southeast Alaska is like none other. It seems that God daily reveals himself to me through the beauty of creation. To see mountains rising out of the sea is just pure beauty and visually inspires me on a daily basis. "

(2016

"The beauty of Juneau and Southeast Alaska is like none other. It seems that God daily reveals himself to me through the beauty of creation. To see mountains rising out of the sea is just pure beauty and visually inspires me on a daily basis. "

Wendy Wall.collage.jpg

Stephen Henderson

Mueller neighborhood, Austin, TX

 ( 2015 )  "Around the block in my specific east Austin neighborhood of Mueller, built on the old airport."

(2015)

"Around the block in my specific east Austin neighborhood of Mueller, built on the old airport."


Bruce Benedict

Holland, MI

 ( 2015 )  "Time spent walking the beach has been particularly effective at lifting our countenances and dusting off the dreariness of short days. The beach’s wildness in winter is exhilarating as you remember the soft waves of summer. It is a stark reminder that journey’s are always exciting and dangerous. How I wish the three magi had published a travel guide for their journey to meet Jesus. Some strange literary alchemy of  Gulliver’s Travels , Bill Bryson, and the Travels of Egeria. I'm thankful for this season of Epiphany with the constant hum of ’ Star in the East ’ pulsing through my mind."

(2015)

"Time spent walking the beach has been particularly effective at lifting our countenances and dusting off the dreariness of short days. The beach’s wildness in winter is exhilarating as you remember the soft waves of summer. It is a stark reminder that journey’s are always exciting and dangerous. How I wish the three magi had published a travel guide for their journey to meet Jesus. Some strange literary alchemy of Gulliver’s Travels, Bill Bryson, and the Travels of Egeria. I'm thankful for this season of Epiphany with the constant hum of ’Star in the East’ pulsing through my mind."


Micha Boyett Hohorst

San Francisco, CA

 ( 2015 )  "The neighborhood we live in now--The Outer Sunset--is the one I hope to stay in long-term. While the rest of the city is louder and wilder and full of local shops and interesting goings-on, the Sunset is quiet. You don’t move here to get the “San Francisco experience,” you move here because you need to. Our neighborhood is spread out, housing is more affordable, and space is easier to come by. We are a community of upper middle-class families, surfers, and first or second generation immigrants (many whose families have owned these houses for 30 years). This is the one city in the US where housing is cheaper by the ocean. Because of that blanket of fog that arrives and sits over the view for half the year, the Outer Sunset is the least sunny place in SF. Our homes may have views of the ocean, but that doesn’t mean we can see it.

(2015)

"The neighborhood we live in now--The Outer Sunset--is the one I hope to stay in long-term. While the rest of the city is louder and wilder and full of local shops and interesting goings-on, the Sunset is quiet. You don’t move here to get the “San Francisco experience,” you move here because you need to. Our neighborhood is spread out, housing is more affordable, and space is easier to come by. We are a community of upper middle-class families, surfers, and first or second generation immigrants (many whose families have owned these houses for 30 years). This is the one city in the US where housing is cheaper by the ocean. Because of that blanket of fog that arrives and sits over the view for half the year, the Outer Sunset is the least sunny place in SF. Our homes may have views of the ocean, but that doesn’t mean we can see it.

    "This is the view from my back porch on a clear day in winter.

 

"This is the view from my back porch on a clear day in winter.


Andrea Shields

Paris, France

 ( 2015 )  "In the Paris area, there are parks and benches everywhere. Each little neighborhood or apartment complex has it's own little playground, or in our town, there was a grand park complete with a pond, walking and bike trails, open fields, pavilions and playgrounds. We were lucky enough to have a view of it from our 12th story apartment. In towns old enough to have a castle, even if it was just a small one, parks and paths were built and have remained. Culturally, on Sundays after a big meal, the family goes for a leisurely walk in the park talking and playing with the children."

(2015)

"In the Paris area, there are parks and benches everywhere. Each little neighborhood or apartment complex has it's own little playground, or in our town, there was a grand park complete with a pond, walking and bike trails, open fields, pavilions and playgrounds. We were lucky enough to have a view of it from our 12th story apartment. In towns old enough to have a castle, even if it was just a small one, parks and paths were built and have remained. Culturally, on Sundays after a big meal, the family goes for a leisurely walk in the park talking and playing with the children."

    "[In Albertville] We were welcomed by the snow-covered Alps and have been watching the sun rise and set over them since. This is the view from my window as I write.  Physical activity, especially skiing is built into the culture, into the school system, in fact. There are bike lanes next to the roads complete with their own special signs, walking and bike paths and trails, and of course like much of Europe, comprehensive bus systems and trains strategically placed in order to get easily, and environmentally-consciously from here to there."

 

"[In Albertville] We were welcomed by the snow-covered Alps and have been watching the sun rise and set over them since. This is the view from my window as I write.  Physical activity, especially skiing is built into the culture, into the school system, in fact. There are bike lanes next to the roads complete with their own special signs, walking and bike paths and trails, and of course like much of Europe, comprehensive bus systems and trains strategically placed in order to get easily, and environmentally-consciously from here to there."


Erin Ware

Atlanta, GA

 ( 2015 )  "What drew us to the place was where the apartments sit. They’re right on the Chattahoochee River in the middle of miles of hiking trails on either side of us, and we’re within the city limits of Atlanta...One of the first things I noticed about this place was the peace that the river provided every time I came. There is a coffee shop attached to the leasing office, so people can come to our river park even if they don’t live here...The river has been our confidant, mine and my husband’s, throughout our entire relationship. We have walked alongside of it hand-in-hand. 

(2015)

"What drew us to the place was where the apartments sit. They’re right on the Chattahoochee River in the middle of miles of hiking trails on either side of us, and we’re within the city limits of Atlanta...One of the first things I noticed about this place was the peace that the river provided every time I came. There is a coffee shop attached to the leasing office, so people can come to our river park even if they don’t live here...The river has been our confidant, mine and my husband’s, throughout our entire relationship. We have walked alongside of it hand-in-hand. 

Erin Humphries.5.jpg

Heidi Dening

Toronto, Canada

 ( 2015 )  "Toronto is known for it’s diversity. About half of its residents were born in outside Canada, and more than 140 languages are spoken in this city. The expression of this diversity varies across neighbourhoods. Our area was historically home to a large Eastern European population and their presence still flavours the community."

(2015)

"Toronto is known for it’s diversity. About half of its residents were born in outside Canada, and more than 140 languages are spoken in this city. The expression of this diversity varies across neighbourhoods. Our area was historically home to a large Eastern European population and their presence still flavours the community."

Dening.2.jpg

What about your neighborhood? Tell me about your local ground in a comment below.

If I walked around the block in your neighborhood, what would we see (hear, smell, etc.)? 

What are some of the “creeks and rivers, weather, seasons, stone outcroppings, plants and animals” that share your neighborhood? 

Put another way:  If you were asked to coordinate a walking or biking tour of your neighborhood, what would you include in the tour?  Also, how would the season of the year affect your itinerary?

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, generous inside and out, true from start to finish.
— John 1:14 MSG