I first started to write, “I live in a neighborhood that is cut off from a lot of the vibrant life of the city.” But, that’s not true. What’s true is that I live in a neighborhood that is cut off from the trendy life of the city. I think, but am not certain, that this has a lot to do with a racial divides and unjust economic investments. Unfortunately, I am a part of the problem.
I have chosen to invest my time and my work in a place other than my neighborhood. I serve as co-pastor of a church on the economic, demographic, and physical opposite side of town. This means that a lot of my time, money, and creative energy is spent in a place other than my own neighborhood. My congregation is busy and spread out. They do not often take part in the opportunity of ministerial office hours. As I’ve mentioned before, I like to be around people. Since people don’t often come to me, I tend to go to people. When I can and as often as I can, I like to set up a satellite office in a coffee shop or market. These hip little people places are not located in my neighborhood. They are almost always across town.
In short, my job is not within a mile radius of my house. This may sound silly, but…I am not going to forego my responsibility to my work as a pastor during Lent. That’d be crazy!
What I am committing to is this: I will make purchases within a mile of my house. I will spend more time connecting to people within a mile of this place. I will become more rooted in my neighborhood.
I will make purchases within a mile of my house. I will spend more time connecting to people within a mile of this place. I will become more rooted in my neighborhood.
For others, their pledge may be different. Maybe they’ll pledge to invest their money within a mile of their parish. Maybe they’ll pledge to invest their money within a mile of their work. Maybe they’ll pledge to invest their money within a mile of one of the “abandoned neighborhoods” of their town or city. The idea is to start with what you spend. Think about the money you spend and chose to spend it more thoughtfully, more locally, and more intentionally. Consider the amount of driving you do and the amount of gas you use. Could your fuel consumption be reduced if you chose to walk to shop rather than to drive? Could your fuel consumption be reduced if you found the closest location from which to purchase your needed item? Would the sky fall if you chose not to buy that item at all or you found something already in your possession you could use instead?
The pledge is not to never exit the one mile radius. The pledge is to try your best to invest your money in one particular area and see what its effect is on your whole self
The pledge is not to never exit the one mile radius. The pledge is to try your best to invest your money in one particular area and see what its effect is on your whole self — mind, body, spirit, heart. You get to choose the particular area. You get to choose the boundaries.
And remember…you be the judge. There are going to be times when you just can’t abide by the one mile rule. Go ahead and go to coffee with that friend who is passing through town and wants to meet you at the highway exit. Don’t beat yourself up about crossing the one mile barrier. When you do cross the line, and you will, take notice. Notice the difference between this place and that. Notice the difference you feel in the different environment. Notice the impact your rootedness has on your sense of self, neighbor, and God.
Read the the complete details of the pledge here. Text re-posted by permission from the author. Follow Helms’s journey on her blog at http://www.withinonemile.blogspot.com/ and on Facebook. Image: Peter Blanchard.
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