I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. Dangerous thinking. The kind of thinking that I just know, five years down the road, will find me in prison. I know, you're scared-- I'll explain. The thoughts that keep running through my mind almost seem like they are planted there by some outside force: whispered to me as I sleep, or injected into my mind as I read or walk around our neighborhood. The thing is, I'm pretty sure these thoughts, these ideas, emotions & tugging on my heart strings aren't coming from me, they're coming from God. And if you've ever had crazy thoughts that you're pretty sure are coming from God, you know they are the most dangerous kind.
When I say this kind of thinking will land me in prison, I don't mean doing hard time for drug dealing (all though we sure could use the cash), I'm thinking more along the lines of prison visits. I mean getting to know the thugs in our neighborhoods, hanging out with the teenagers on parole staying at the ministry house nearby, and working with glue sticks & pipe cleaners at after-school tutoring centers.
Back in the day-- a hundred years ago, when I was a bright eyed, idealistic college student-- I had this very strong passion to save the inner city. Okay, I knew I wasn't actually going to save it, but I was really very serious about moving into the hood, loving some inner city kids, and bringing hope & restoration to their lives. I saw myself growing old, sitting on my front porch in Compton, with homemade cookies for all the neighborhood kids, and knowing them all by name.
So I graduated, moved to Compton (technically Lynwood, nestled between Compton & Watts), and stuck it out for 4 fairly miserable years of feeling like a failure, but not willing to admit defeat. When Chris rescued me & whisked me away to San Francisco, my dreams of the inner city were a little fuzzier, and it took me a little over 2 years before I realized that my little candle of passion had burned out somewhere along the way.
But then, sometime around Christmastime, those crazy, dangerous thoughts started coming into my mind. Honestly, they sprouted their little heads when Chris & I were thinking about quitting and leaving this whole Campus Crusade thing. Everything is changing, and it turns out that Chris & I will be the only ones left in San Francisco from our little Band of Brothers. Realizing that significant change in our lives (and our jobs) was a huge loss... but somehow, alongside it, came this little bud of hope & courage & vision that I haven't felt for a while.
It looks like in the Fall, we will be our own bosses, and will have the freedom to dream & experiment & do whatever we want. The big question, of course is "What do we want?" The more I dream & think & explore, the more I return to those desires from back in college-- but with less idealistic passion and a little more cautiousness and healthy respect, knowing just what a move like that could cost.
The beautiful think is that we don't have to move. We can stay here in the neighborhood we love-- we would just start living differently, spending our time differently, and giving of ourselves more freely.
I actually spent two days this week-- one of them being a Saturday!!-- out in Oakland listening to talks & seminars on inner city ministry. It's been a long time since I have surrounded myself with people like the ones at these seminars. These are the kind of people who are risking and giving more than I have even thought of risking or giving for a long time. It was inspiring & challenging, and made my heart beat a little faster in fear, anticipation and the excitement of what could be. And it just felt right. Although I felt out of place, it was strangely like coming home, too.
I don't know where these crazy thoughts will lead me, or what life will look like a year from now, but somehow it seems like my feet are on a path they are supposed to be on.