Talking Walls

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Sometimes you walk into the cool and dark of the church, and someone is struggling with  demons.  Or giving thanks.  Or resting. In the summer, people are cooling off.   In the winter, people are warming up.  Very, very quiet. And yet the holiest conversations are going on.  Around this block the walls talk.

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This is the Resurrection window which I photographed on the afternoon of the Fall Equinox in 2015.  I needed a little personal resurrection and I have never seen it that lit up before or since.  Timing is everything.

A Wiselady on the block, Pat Kiley, says “You can walk in anytime during the day and see something new and be surprised by something.  On a cloudy day you can see what you can’t see when it’s sunny. Go figure.”

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I KNOW THIS.  Sometimes people come in here—strangers to us but certainly not to God—and they are HANGING ON FOR DEAR LIFE.  The walls talk to them, challenging, comforting and strengthening.

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Hanging on to Jesus’ feet at the foot of the cross

Here’s another talking wall, the storefront entrance to  Covenant Community, our residence for recovering addicted men on the Spring Street side of the block. Think of all the sufferers who walk or drive by and wonder if just maybe new life can come to them.

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Around this block, we have talking walls, and not all of them are made by Tiffany.  O, we are the stronger and more fully human by their grace.   Come and see. 

Martha +

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Webmaster’s Thoughts on MARTA

“I am a senior at Georgia State studying Computer Science. I am working towards finding a career in Software Development. In preparation for my career I have begun developing mobile apps.”

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Tremaine Davis works  with our whole staff, and believe me, this is not a totally tech-savvy crowd.  For the last month, every single one of us have filed into his office hour after hour cleaning up our little sections of the  All Saints’ website.

The guy has the patience of Job.  Sixty thousand people per day pass by All Saints’ on MARTA.  Around this block, we thank God for a strong, quiet young man who gets off at our stop.

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Change Happens Around This Block

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This is most of the staff of  Covenant Community, the life stabilization residence for sick-of-being-addicted and  once-home-less-but-now-at-home men on our block.

This photo is what real heroes look like.

Big changes are going on.  Three of these core folks are moving on to the next bright and hopeful stages of their lives amidst many blessings and much gratitude.  So while you see these smiles, know there are also some tears.  Change is hard.  Do we know that at Covenant Community?  Yes, we do.

Covenant Community is actually right next to Bright Horizons, our early childhood day care and pre-k center.  Isn’t that twenty-five year old coexistence of a nursery school and a residence for addicts both unexpected and beautiful?  So much learning how to live going on with fragile people—ages six weeks to sixty—all of them changing and growing and eventually moving on to the next season of their lives.

God bless you departing Covenant Community staff—Dr. Debra Dantzler, Sarah Ford, and Joseph Butler. And God bless those who remain to carry on this gorgeous and fraught and frankly miraculous ministry.

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A Little Child Leads Us Around This Block

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Louisa Merchant (refugee guru extraordinaire) sent this out to the staff a couple of days ago,  “so I won’t be the only one crying.”   I cut the kid’s name off for her/his name is Jesus.

On a day when there is turmoil in the world’s markets (Brexit), rest yourself in the simple, powerful  glow of a generous heart. Around this block, the Christ-formed heart is our core product.  

Martha+

 

 

 

Green Matters

Beth Blalock is All Saints’ junior warden and an environmental attorney serving as the Brownfield Coordinator, Georgia Environmental Protection Division. Do you even know what a brownfield* is? I didn’t!

Here’s Beth …

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The All Saints’ campus has many peaceful spots; the magnolia tree happens to be one of my favorite spots precisely because it is not peaceful…at least not when my children are around. They are both climbers and gravitate to anything that can take them higher. Many times I have had the experience in a park or natural setting of looking for them to my right and left only to hear their voices calling to me from above. I love hearing them laughing (maybe fighting) high up in the branches. It is an ancient activity that has been performed by children for centuries-before the baseball, the swimming, the karate, the running here and there. Kids in trees have always been and, I hope, always will be.

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In our increasingly busy lives, I think about this urge to be with nature, to be in nature and how important it is to honor and nurture that instinct. To me, this picture is worth a thousand words because it represents our life perfectly. In the foreground are the kids in this historic tree and in the background you can see components of our modern and rushed life – a car and the MARTA station – symbols of the contradictions in our daily lives. It reminds me to make room for the both the busy world and the natural, spiritual calm.

By the way, like her children, Beth enjoys climbing and is currently researching a trip to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.  She says any and all recommendations are welcome.

*According to Beth, “a Brownfield is a site/piece of property that has been used in the past and has some form of contamination vs. a greenfield-open pasture. Our “block” is a brownfield because there was once a dry cleaner on it.   Make sense?  We try to encourage the RE-development of those historically used sites instead of just the nice pretty green ones out there” 

Around this block, one way or another,  I think all of us over the age of eleven  are somewhere in the process of being human brownfields on the way to becoming green pastures.

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Why are you here?

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Around this block, we have a gazillion reasons for being here. I asked John Carter to tell me his.

I stand here in front of the altar of the chapel at All Saints’ because AIDS is such a fundamental characteristic of my return to a faithful life.

One of the earliest responses of the Episcopal Church to AIDS was a retreat at Kanuga decades ago where I met Bruce Garner (longtime All Saints’ head verger). When my partner and I moved back to Atlanta last year, I came here. I was yearning for a connection with God and I was hungry for religious practices.

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Also I am here because I have family history in the neighborhood.   My great grandfather’s house for instance sits under the current Federal Reserve building.

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My source is my ninety-five year old father who was born in Atlanta.  He is a wonderfully observant and connected kind of guy. A trip down Peachtree with him is like an archaeology dig. He remembers layer upon layer.

John Carter is a newbie verger.  He told me that there are scads of  “John Carters”, like ‘John Carter of Mars’ who was created by Edgar Rice Burroughs before he hit it really big with Tarzan. John Carter was also a James Agee poem and an actual internet genius Somebody even put together a website for all the John Carters in the world, but our John Carter says it is not that interesting.

Why are you here?  I bet there are layer upon layers in the answer to that question.  There are for me.

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John Carter is a newbie verger. I’m glad he is our John Carter.

 

There are so many John Carters, like John Carter of Mars who was created by Edgar Rice Burroughs before he hit it really big with Tarzan. John Carter was also a James Agee poem and an actual internet genius Somebody even put together a website for all the John Carters in the world, but when it was not that interesting.

 

 

A Sound Man

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Here’s Phil …

I grew up near Stone Mountain, the Peters Community. Those people with the hoods on their heads? When I was four, I saw them with my own eyes in my neighborhood. I had no idea why they were there but they were there.

I was the youngest child, and my brothers and sisters helped raise me. We have a close family.  I have nieces and nephews my age.

My schools were 90% white. Me and some other kids—one busload of black kids—would show up every day at Brockett Elementary School in Clarkston, and then I went to Tucker and Lakeside High Schools.

Then I went to Morris Brown. Now that was a new universe. I had been going to white schools, and Morris Brown was almost all African Americans. I liked it but I ended up quitting. My mom was Not happy.

Mom has got my Covenant Community Certificate. And she’s got all my medals and trophies in football and track. I was Team MVP several times, and all my teams won (smiling). My mom just celebrated her 92nd  birthday. She was right there with me. Whether I went this way or that way, she was right there with me all along the way.

Phil Turks handles our sound system on Sunday and is a sexton of All Saints’ Church.  Phil celebrates eighteen years of sound life, dating from his residence in Covenant Community. He is an active member of  Men of Hope, the Covenant Community alumni group.  

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