lenten journal: I’m walking, yes indeed


    In the opening lines of Jesus Christ Superstar, Judas sings

    every time I look at you I don’t understand
    why you let the things you did get so out of hand
    you’d have managed better if you’d had a plan
    why’d you choose such backward time and such a strange land
    if you’d come today you could have reached a whole nation
    people in 4 B.C. had no mass communication . . .

    I’m sure Jesus would have broken the record for followers had he been able to Tweet, though shrinking the parables to one hundred and forty characters would have been a challenge, even for the Messiah. Even if he could have reached the world, the quality of the encounters would have been fundamentally different. Judas criticized him for lack of a plan yet, it seems to me, that is what is perhaps most essential about the gospel stories. The disciples didn’t greet him every morning with a papyrus Day-Timer and say, “We’ll start with healing a blind man after breakfast, on the way to town a woman will touch your cloak, at lunch you’ll feed the five thousand, and then raise Jarius’ daughter from the dead in the early afternoon before you catch the boat for a little ‘me’ time.”

    Jesus walked. And Jesus was interrupted.

    In fact, the context for most of his ministry was interruptions. He walked – occasionally with somewhere specific to go – and people stopped him. Love is more easily transferred by analog. Tonight, Ginger and I planned to go to the opening of The Cookery, which bills itself as “Durham’s Cooking Incubator.” Read their words:

    Starting a food business can be daunting. We are here to foster creative culinary minds as they set out to become the next big thing on the local food scene. With our certified facility and regulatory expertise, you can jump-start your culinary venture today.

    Though Durham is known as the “Bull City,” I think we could more aptly be called “City of Encouragement” because of the way people pull for one another around here. Durhamsters are good at cheering each other along and helping to make each other’s dreams come true.

    Since we knew parking would be tough and the evening was amazingly beautiful, Ginger and I decided to walk from our house down West Trinity Avenue to Buchanan, along side of Duke’s East Campus, through Brightleaf Square, and down to Old Chapel Hill Road where The Cookery was ringed by food trucks, not the least of which was Pie Pushers, Durham’s latest addition and the dream of our friends Becky and Mike.

    We were not far from the house when we met a woman walking an old black dog whom we could tell had been at the vet because on leg was shaved where he had had an IV. (Lola is sporting the same style right now.) The rest of the way down West Trinity took us past a plethora of pink dogwoods in full bloom, parents out walking with children, some people waiting at bus stops, and folks coming home from work. The turn on to Buchanan took us alongside the brick wall that rings the campus and past all kinds of walkers and runners making the loop. We crossed the tracks in Brightleaf and passed the houses along the lower part of Buchanan, some that have been restored and others still boarded up. One old house that we had looked at when we first moved to town was on the market again, still looking for the tenacious love that will help it heal.

    When we got to The Cookery, we were preceded by a couple of hundred of our fellow citizens and four or five food trucks. I got my slice from Mike and Becky and Ginger and I both got a couple of “garlic knots” – Mike’s creation of a roasted garlic clove (with some cheese, or pesto, or sausage) wrapped in a lovely little blanket of pizza dough (his recipe) and baked. As we stood in line, we saw Sean from Fullsteam (one of our best community encouragers and damn good beer maker), Brian from Housing for New Hope, a couple Ginger knew from her exercise class, Derek (a photographer for the Indy), and then we met the folks from Berenbaums. They are a bakers who are just starting out and selling their wares at the Durham Farmer’s Market. Their cookies and cheddar biscuits (oh, my) are offered on a sliding scale: you pay what you can. The folks at Ninth Street Bakery, who are very established, are helping them get their start.

    On the way home, we turned left on to Main Street when we got back to campus and looped around to Ninth Street so we could make a stop at Chubby’s Tacos for some chips and queso and a couple of frozen margaritas. On the way in we met a young woman wearing a Baylor t-shirt and she and I had a brief “Sic ‘em, Bears” moment. We walked home down Markham to Watts Street and back to Trinity. At about the same place where we had met the woman with her dog, we saw a man about a hundred yards in front of us who was having a fight with a plant, evidently, because he tore up the leaves and stomped on them and then punched at the air above them as they lay broken on the sidewalk. When he walked past us, he reeked of anger and he kept on going. We finished climbing the hill, and walked down out street and home to our waiting puppies.

    “This feels like our town,” Ginger said somewhere on the way home.

    I know. What’s this have to do with Jesus? Well, I drive up and down many of the same roads we walked this evening and I don’t get to see the detail. Someone honked and waved as we walked, but I couldn’t tell who it was. They drove on, and we stepped into the middle of our city. If Jesus had better technology, the gospels would have been much shorter and much less interesting.



    1. Let people say what they want about the Bull City, but I think this is one incredible community.

      Thanks for painting a picture of it from street level for those of us who spend time in cars as well as for those who don’t live here!


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