Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The beauty of being in East Fayetteville, Arkansas

A high for today: I re-discovered (for the umpteenth time) the beauty of East Fayetteville. I've walked all over this neighborhood, but there are still numerous beautiful homes and wonderfully appointed yards I haven't seen. I'm especially taken with the tall ornamental grasses some folks have growing.

Printed out a Google map and then covered it with my chicken scratches in order to create a strategy for wending my way through some more out-of-the-way neighborhoods in the environs around our church.

Why? Well, today I set it as my goal to hand delivered half of our fall stewardship packets to the members of my Shepherd Group. We organize our congregation into Shepherd Groups, based loosely on geography. Since I live very close to the church (about eight minutes walk on foot down Raven Trail), most of these dozen deliveries were within about a two mile radius of the church. Because we were encouraging our Shepherd Group leaders to hand deliver the materials, I wanted to take personal responsibility for delivering the packets to my own group.

Since I was delivering in the afternoon, I missed most people, and left the packets on their doorstep. I'll follow up with a phone call or Facebook message. Please know that when I stopped at your house, I prayed for you, and waved in a friendly manner at your neighbors.

To my peeps: If you are delivering these materials like I am, you have already discovered the difficulty  of doing what many delivery people do daily--finding your way around the surface of the planet. I so often sit in familiar space, or navigate digital or conceptual space, that whenever I have to find my way around geographical or cartographic space, I'm challenged. It takes a bit for me to get my bearings.

Then, in addition, to plan a series of stops on a map adds another level of complexity. Where should I go first? Are there obvious trajectories to head out on? How do I visit seven different houses without backtracking unnecessarily? How long will this take?

I decided to do the deliveries by quadrants. This afternoon I delivered seven envelopes in the northern portion of our neighborhood. Tonight I'll walk my own immediate neighborhood to deliver four envelopes to households who are our immediate (literally) neighbors. Then tomorrow I'll deliver two more packets to some houses that, although geographically only about half a mile from my house, are actually a five mile drive, because I have to around and over a creek and through some foothills to get back into their neighborhood, which abuts ours.

I like knowing my neighbors. It helps to know where they live. Blessings to all those who visit homes, and care about the beauty of where we are, and pay attention.

Low for the day: It's not as easy as we thought to recover the lost data of our church database as we make the switch to a more dynamic database where individual members manage their own information. We're excited about the switch, but it is a bit slow. Thanks to everyone who has promptly gotten on-line and figured it out.

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  1. I have re-read this post a few times, and I think it is somewhat mundane and plain. But much of life is like that, so perhaps it evokes daily life well?

  2. If you walked a different, poorer neighborhood you would have a vastly different experience. There the beauty would not be in well manicured homes and lawns. It might be in the sharp, hungry cry of an infant or the small smile of a mother who knows something of the struggle to survive. You would find more people home due to job loss or other difficulties. You would find more people on their porches and out walking or gathering at the Easy Mart, due to lack of transportation and a human need to connect to others in a meaningful way. No, we can find beauty in life's mundane moments and getting to know our neighborhood, especially in the context of how others live, is a great place to do that.


  3. Janet,

    Yards and homes don't have to be rich in order to beautiful, and most of where I drove I wouldn't call affluent. In fact three of my deliveries were to town homes and apartments. I guess I'm wondering what gave you the impression the neighborhood I was in was wealthy? 40% of the kids at our elementary school are on free and reduced lunch. These were the houses I drove past and visited yesterday.


  4. Oh sorry, I just immediately thought of the neighborhood in Fayetteville by the Easy Mart and my time in that neighborhood without too much in the way of beautiful yards or homes, a very different kind of beauty present there. Also misunderstood, thought you were walking, and I know from vast experience that the poorer neighborhoods are filled with children and people due to the economics of transportation and it didn't seem as if you'd seen anyone. I've been in the East Fayetteville area, by your church, and I would consider it affluent in comparison to what came to mind when reading your first post.

    Truly no harm meant,

  5. No worries. Yes, the area around our church includes many affluent homes, but the neighborhood has diversified so there are plenty of lower income apartment complexes and town homes, etc. It's economically quite diverse. Thanks for the reminder that there are all kinds of beauty.