Listening for Abundance, Part I: "We walk sightless among miracles"

Over the next six posts, Mike Mather, pastor of Broadway UMC in Indianapolis, shares how he has come to focus locally, listening for and learning to see the abundance of God's work already in progress among the people of the congregation and neighborhood where he is appointed to serve.

A Jewish Sabbath Prayer:
Days pass,
Years vanish,
And we walk sightless among miracles.

Hello Reverend.  Miss Rose is often out in the inner city, in her housecoat and tennis shoes sweeping the street, picking up trash.
Her caramel complexion fits in well in this block. It blends with the pink of her worn robe and the salt and pepper gray of the sidewalk.

She has a toughness and gentleness, easily holding that tension. Shes seen it all and then some. Shes no innocent. Shes known blood to run in the gutters. Shes heard the shouts, then shots, so loud as to be unnoticed.

Shes tall and the years have not bent her much.  Perhaps its all that walking, striding into the future.  She has cared for her children, her grandchildren, and her great-grandchildren.  she now shares.  In her 80s she continues in the work of building community.

Piece by piece she picks it up and places it deep inside. Its alright. Shes bringing it together in ways, allowing the beauty to shine through. The glorious in the gritty.

She steps into the street. She looks both ways. Empty patchwork fields and an abundance of homes fill the street. Children, families, and papers swirl around her feet. The Spirit blows and the papers dance, sometime out of her reach. She watches, she knows where its headed.

Crushed cans and broken glass are part of her collection. She gathers up the broken and damaged and brings it home.

She watches from her porch.  Sunflowers in the front yard, broken pavement opening to the brick from generations ago.  Some homes have fences, some have none.

On her porch late in 2008 she sat and dreamed about a black President, a smile on her face.

Young people walk by as she picks up trash. They notice, but dont say anything. They walk with the easy (unknowing) confidence of the young.          They see and dont see.  Just like me. Their feet land heavy. Hers seem to glide. They laugh and talk loud. She smiles and says little. Every once in awhile they reach down and pick up a piece of paper.

Here is the slow, steady, steadfast work of community. She builds it on broken pavement. Sure this foundation is strong enough.
She sees the beauty and she wants to make it shine. She sees the strength and she wants it in power.

Kids play curb ball as she cleans the street.  They see her as in a mirror. This is how we care for one another.  We see the beauty, and build on it.

There are people doing such work, every day, all the time.

Can we see?

Miss Rose, sunflowers in the front yard, beans blossoming in the back. She knows how to grow things.

Young people notice her, while others - television reporters, teachers, preachers, even neighbors - tell them how bad their neighborhood is.

She steadily, daily, cleans the street. Does she keep it clean? No. She does her part. An invitation to others to do theirs. A witness.

Miss Rose, smiling, reads to children at the church.