It has been one of those days in Everett where the sky is so blue and the leaves exploding with every known shade of green (and even some unknown ones) as the sun dances across them and the sparkling Puget Sound that you have no choice but to ask yourself: “Do I actually get to live here?”
The only complaint one might make about the day is that it is windy. It’s an erratic playful wind. It gusts in one direction. Calms. Gusts in another. Twirls a bit - like a churchy little girl on Easter morning showing off her special Easter dress. It zooms past your ears roaring more loudly than the man on the motorcycle trying to remind us how impressive his bike is as he revs the engine at a red light. The wind wins out as loudest. Then, when the light turns green and he speeds off, the wind vanishes momentarily with him. Then it comes back to dance through my hair and team up with my bangs-in-need-of-a-trim to blind me like a friend sneaking up from behind, covering your eyes and saying: “Guess who!?” I know who. Wind. Ruach. Spirit.
And today as the wild, gentle, boisterous wind danced through Everett, we debuted our reimagination of a labyrinth on the city streets.
As far as I know, before today this hadn’t been done. I know for sure none of us there today had ever done it. I know it won’t be the last time.
Our brains and our schedules are powerful things. Like the man on the motorcycle, we are impressive. But Spirit is louder and softer all at once. Sometimes we need something special to slow us down enough to actually feel the wind. To actually see Spirit.
We tend to get away, out of town, out of the bustle of downtown, away from soccer teams practicing and coaches shouting at them, away from little boys trying to figure out that staying vertical on a bicycle thing, away from cars prowling for parking. But sometimes, we need to stay in the midst of all that because God lives there. God - Spirit - has been waiting to take us on a tour of Her (the Hebrew for Spirit is feminine and the Greek neuter, so I use “Her” in respect to what Spirit has revealed to us of Herself) vast home. But we tend to traipse through it uninterested in the intricacies as we rush from place to place and wait impatiently for lights to change.
So today, eight of us - nine including the dog who is our most faithful church member - walked a labyrinth in the city. And as I walked, I felt the noisy wind - the loud Spirit - telling me: “Welcome to my cathedral. Pay attention to where I am and how I play.”
The wind teamed up with leaves to add percussion like an egg shaker: so small and so audible. Wind danced on concrete between two used, empty, discarded glass bottles comprising the morning’s bell choir. Wind skipped along Colby Avenue as a preschooler rode his training wheeled bike with his dad next to him and his sister babbling and bobbing down the street on her mom’s shoulders past a crowd of people sharing brunch and Spirit said: “Do you see me? Do you see eternity stretching out playfully on Colby Ave?”
I walked past a house in disrepair with garbage scattered about and an old tire leaning on the dilapidated siding. In the disheveled yard there were old mismatched decomposing chairs decorated with rust and mold and one toddler’s chair circling a fire pit. And Spirit said: “This is where I spend so many nights talking with my family over a fire until we should have already been in bed. You might call this circle my church.”
As I rounded the last corner and rejoined my fellow urban pilgrims, there was a peace, playfulness, and hope inhabiting us all that can only come from the hospitality of Spirit taking you on a tour of Her favorite neighborhood haunts.
Then we shared lunch and the wind/Spirit got a little too rowdy, trying to dump everyone’s food on the floor and feed table scraps to the dog. And so we shared lunch and time with the wisdom, calm, playfulness, stillness, and booming voice of Spirit - in Her cathedral. In Her livingroom. In the place she has called home long long before anyone even heard the word “Everett.”
If you weren’t able to join us for this month’s walk in Bayside, we hope you’ll be able to join us on June 6th at 10:30am in the Port Gardner neighborhood of North Everett (1850 Wall Street) Here’s a link with more information: http://www.everettchristianchurch.org/labyrinths.html