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Oh, the times, they are a'changing.....

I sometimes forget what the world looks like just outside my own door. It's easy to wrap oneself in the cozy security of a locked front door, or to be swept away in the emotional tidal wave that is the national, global news. The trap of either-or, the telescopic view versus the microscopic view, blinds us to what may be going on just two doors down or three streets over.

I marveled today at a small sub-community that seemed to nestle itself amid the growing, thriving city blocks around it. It wasn't as if the this tiny ecosystem exploded overnight. In fact, looking at the state of most of the buildings, it is a section that has fallen into disrepair over the years, and that was continuing to disintegrate right before our eyes. Had we stood still for even a minute, I'm sure we would have seen another roof shingle fall or another board of decayed siding slip away.

And though this section of city should have been long abandoned and left for the city to do with as it sees fit, there are some that refuse to allow it to collapse completely, some that refuse to let the city streets die peacefully, some that refuse to accept the change that is pushing into their little world from the outside.

But, in this drive to keep these small sub-communities alive, a strange pattern develops. A lop-sided coexistence emerges that can at once bring a tear to the eye and a chuckle to the throat. I'm never sure if I should shake my head at the despair of it all, or giggle at the determined survivalist instinct.

Every other little abandoned grocery store front has been converted into whatever new and fancy little worship center that can be imagined, with names as variant as New Zion, Passion Global and The Faith Tabernacle. The glass fronts of each store are painted over with the bright purples and bright golds--- the colors of religious royalty.

And these converted centers of faith and worship are interspersed along the street, dotting between the liquor stores and pawn shops and bail bondsman offices.

There seems to be a natural order to these neighborhood ecosystems and a willingness for one end of the spectrum to exist with the other. In fact, there may actually be a need for the balance that both ends create. The dens of the faithless being shadowed by the halls of the holy-- one hoping to spread its influence to the other and somehow leveling the emotional roller-coaster that might occur in other neighborhoods where only ONE end of the spectrum reigns.

The only troubling idea that comes to mind as we pass, first a windowless hall of worship and then a windowless gentlemen's club.... have any unfortunate souls mistaken one for the other, finding out when it was too late that they weren't getting what they thought they were paying for.....


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